Aimée Nolte at the Jazz Corner

Aimée Nolte at the Jazz Corner
Martin McFie By

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Aimée Nolte with Nicki Parrott
The Jazz Corner
Hilton Head Island, SC
October 18-19, 2019

Cool Autumn breezes carried two sophisticated ladies to the Carolinas. Pianist and singer Aimée Nolte from Los Angeles invited her friend from Connecticut, Nicki Parrott to sing and play bass together with her. They were joined on the stage by Taylor Roberts, playing his 7-string Benedetto guitar, which was handbuilt in nearby Savannah. On his Gretsch drum kit, made in Ridgeland, SC perhaps fifteen miles away from Hilton Head Island, was Justin Varnes, in town to play another in his "Classical meets Jazz" series of concerts.

Together they explored a range of easy listening music. On the "Sunnyside of the Street," the ladies sang together in close harmony. The jazz standard "Bye, Bye Blackbird" was succinctly delivered by Nolte singing and scatting alone to Parrott's solo bass creating a quiet and intimate moment. Parrott delivered a raucous Peggy Lee classic "I'm a Woman, w-o-m-a-n" playfully inviting Roberts to take a guitar solo and "play it like a woman." They moved on to Sinatra's" You Make Me Feel So Young," then entered a section of Beatles music with the Lennon and McCartney song "Let It Be." "The Long and Winding Road" on McCartney's estate in the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland enticed them to trade phrases then sing close harmony to end the reflective melody. "For a While" was played as an instrumental, but Nolte spoke the lyric before they began. "For a while, I gaze at you/this is not what I expected/your eyes are reflected, in mine." They returned to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper LP to play McCartney's jaunty "When I'm 64."

The next collaboration between the two lady singers was a Streisand/ Garland piece in which they sang two different songs at the same time. "Happy days Are here Again" and "Forget your Troubles" may seem an unlikely musical and rhythmic pairing, but they made the songs challenge and flow, ending neatly together. "Sing"(Sing a song) was the opportunity for both guitar and drum solos to accompany Parrott's vocals.

They played out with a Blues, going to "Kansas City," here they come. This evening was a delight of sophisticated instrumental excellence, and vocal intricacy. The gentlemen did their rhythmic and solo work well, but it was the two ladies singing and playing together who celebrated their skill and their easy friendship in a smooth, precise and delicately inventive performance.

Photo crédit: Martin McFie

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