Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Gypsy

music CyrilleFrench-born jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée lives for musical freedom and improvisation

Cyrille Aimée is a musical gypsy. Her sound incorporates elements of Latin American, American, Brazilian and other styles of jazz, she has recorded albums as a duet with Diego Figueiredo, she currently performs with the Surreal (same pronunciation as her first name) Band, and she is working on a new album with yet another band.

As it happens, Aimée can actually blame gypsies for her love of jazz. “I grew up in Samois-sur-Seine, which is a little town in France where Django Reinhardt used to live,” she says. “Every year they have the Django Festival in his honor, and so gypsies from all parts of Europe come and honor him and play guitar. I started hanging out with the gypsies and became obsessed with their music, their way of living, their freedom. What drew me to jazz music was the freedom of it, all the improvisation, and the fact that it’s a style of music that is constantly changing.”

Aimée loves experimenting with her own music. The Surreal Band plays more straight-ahead jazz, with drums, saxophone, trumpet and bass surrounding her, while the group she has assembled for her next project includes three guitars—gypsy, Brazilian and jazz.

“I wanted to have a different kind of band this time,” says Aimée. “My favorite instrument is the guitar, so I wanted to have three guitars in the band. And despite my love of gypsy guitar, I have not yet done a project with that in it, so that’s something we are including in this new project. It’s been really fun and interesting.”

For Aimée, the evolution of her sound throughout the years has been influenced by the people she knows.

“My mother’s from the Dominican Republic, so that’s where I get the Latin vibe from. I play with a lot of Brazilian guitarists, so that’s where the Brazilian influence comes from. And I live in New York so there’s the American jazz,” she explains. “But really, I just like good jazz. I don’t care what people want to call it—traditional jazz, modern jazz, Latin jazz, whatever—I just like music that makes people feel something.”

One of the biggest influences on her music and live show was the time she spent touring and performing with the gypsy jazz band Caravan Palace in 2008. The experience required Aimée to exude an entirely different sort of energy on stage.

“That was insane,” she says. “It was giant festivals with 10,000 people jumping around. We were dancing around on stage and everything. I learned a lot about stage presence there. In a small jazz club you don’t move a lot, you know? You stand there, you sway a little and you keep your eyes closed a lot of the time. But when you’re on a giant stage like that you have to inhabit the whole space. … Once I got the hang of it, I loved it.”

That energy and passion is prevalent throughout her fifth album, released in March, entitled Live at Birdland. The perfect demonstration of Aimée’s wide range and diverse influences, the album features an enchanting cover of the classic Cinderella song “A Dream Is a Wish,” scatting a la Karrin Allyson on the lively “Caravan,” and the musical chops of her band members, like tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm. But perhaps the most impressive track is “Nuit Blanche,” a stunning example of live-looping magic that shows off Aimée’s beat-boxing skills and smoky French vocals.

“Whenever you hear music it instantly puts you in a certain mood,” Aimée says. “It can pick you up. It makes you want to dance or cry. It is incredibly powerful for being something you can’t even grasp!” 

Cyrille Aimée will perform at 7 p.m. Monday, June 3 at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20/adv, $23/door. For more information, call 427-2227.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location