Aimee Allen's debut album provides a generous helping of eleven tunes from the Great American Songbook. The artist, who possesses a bright voice with a good range, takes the opportunity to mix in some bossa nova, as well as the French lyric for "Autumn Leaves," including the rarely heard verse.
While still a student at Yale University, Allen took an active interest in performing with two a cappella groups which specialized in a jazz repetoire. After her graduation, she lived and performed regularly in Paris. The singer's interest in both French music and bossa nova led to the formation of Les Bossa Novices.
Allen shows a fine ability to communicate with a ballad, which she does on the Ellington/Strayhorn classic "Daydream" and Arthur Hamilton's "Cry Me A River," where she's effectively accompanied by guitarist Richard Padron. The other members of her ensemble include pianists Dave Cook or Toru Dodo, bassist Ben Campbell and drummer Brian Woodruff.
Allen's a real affinity for the music of Brazil comes through on her two ventures into the genre (Luis Bonfa's "Manha de Carneval/Black Orpheus" and Jobim's "Triste" are the high points of the album). What was most surprising to me was the addition of an original, "Solitude Blues," where she seems to lighten up a bit, perhaps because she feels more comfortable in that setting.
Track Listing: My Favorite Things; Manha de Carnival/Black Orpheus; Daydream; Cry Me a River; Nature Boy;
Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves; Honeysuckle rose; You Stepped Out of a Dream; Triste;
Here's That Rainy Day; Solitude Blues.
Personnel: Aimee Allen: vocals; Dave Cook: piano; Toru Dodo: piano; Richard Padron: guitar (4); Brian
Woodruff: drums; Ben Campbell: bass.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.