By Cree McCree | Published December 2021
Delayed by the pandemic, and released in the wake of Hurricane Ida, NOJO’s second release under the artistic direction of founding drummer Adonis Rose shines a beacon of light and hope. Full of joie de vivre, which has set La Nouvelle-Orléans apart since its 1718 founding, the lushly orchestrated album is anchored by the consummate French vocalist and recent New Orleans transplant Cyrille Aimée.
In the title-track opener, “Petite Fleur,” the French chanteuse wraps her rich, velvety voice around Sidney Bechet’s 1951 jazz standard, written while the New Orleans clarinet legend was living in France. Then, intimate as a whisper, she asks, “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life,” singing the romantic Michel Legrand ballad in much-sexier French. And on “Si Tu Savais,” Aimée and a sizzling trumpet transport us to the Hot Club heyday of guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose latter-day gypsy carts lured her from her Samois-sur-Seine bedroom window to Reinhardt festivals.
Elsewhere, Aimée dives deep into quintessentially New Orleans styles, rocking out like Fats Domino on “I Don’t Hurt Anymore,” chugging cold ones on the stoop with “Get The Bucket” and leading her own second line on “Down,” a percussive Aimée original that gets the big-band NOJO treatment it deserves. Studded with homages to Billie Holliday (“Crazy He Calls Me”) and Ella Fitzgerald (“Undecided”), Petite Fleur is a rich collaboration that moves seamlessly between both cultures and pays tribute to both.
Petite Fleur: Petite Fleur; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life; Si Tu Savais; I Don’t Hurt Anymore; The Land Of The Beginning Again; Crazy He Calls Me; On A Clear Day; Get The Bucket; Undecided; Down. (44:53)
Personnel: Adonis Rose, drums; Cyrille Aimée, vocals. Featured NOJO players: Ricardo Pascal, soprano saxophone; Ed Peterson, tenor saxophone; Ashlin Parker, John Michael Bradford, trumpet; Victor Atkins, piano; Gerald Watkins Jr., drums.
Ordering Info: storyvillerecords.com