Direct from Paris, jazz artist to perform at West Shore

April 8, 2014


VICTORY TWP. – Cyrille Aimée, acclaimed jazz vocalist direct from France, will grace the West Shore Community College stage on Sat., April 26, as part of WSCC’s popular Performing Arts Series.  The concert is7:30 p.m. and tickets are on sale now.=

Aimée is an unstoppable, undeniable new talent in jazz today, says director of the series, Dr. Rick Plummer. He adds, “Area audiences will have a unique opportunity to see this up-and-coming artist early in her star-bound trajectory toward world-wide fame, along with several other internationally acclaimed musicians who play onstage with her, in the intimate setting of the Center Stage Theater.”

Praised for her unparalleled abilities, Cyrille’s vocal stylings are enchanting and mesmerizing, says WSCC Associate Professor of Music, Ted Malt.  He goes on to say, “Her rich background has supplied her with the driving force of Dominican rhythm and French Gypsy swing, receiving rave reviews and a fan following wherever she goes.”

Winner of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s International Vocal Competition, the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2012, and finalist in the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition, Aimée is, in the words of Will Friedwald of “The Wall Street Journal,”  “one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation.”

Joining Cyrille onstage will be Koran Agan and Michael Valeanu, on guitar, Sam Anning, on bass, and Rajiv Jayaweera, on drums.

Cyrille was born in Fontainebleau, France, to a French father and Dominican mother. Her introduction to jazz was the result of the fortuitous location of her upbringing, the village Samois-sur-Seine, the same place where the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt once lived.

For decades, gypsies from throughout Europe have descended upon Samois every June, setting up caravans in nearby meadows for the annual Django Reinhardt Festival.  Many years ago, a young, curious Cyrille wandered, unbeknownst to her parents, into the encampments and fell in love with the gypsies’ music and way of life.

She would climb out her bedroom window at night and spend evenings in their quarters, learned their language and sang by the fire with Django’s descendants, before returning home prior to sunrise and school. “I was hypnotized by this music which made me want to tap my feet,” said Cyrille. “Swinging music makes me so happy.”

Cyrille tours around the world and has created several recordings, including CDs with Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo, with whom she has extensively toured in a duo setting. Cyrille Aimée’s hybrid of influences has resulted in a sound that’s fresh and enlivening.

In addition, her distinctive voice, which did not escape the attentions of famed musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, who cast Cyrille in an Encores! Special Event at New York City’s City Center in November 2013, is guaranteed to enthrall

New York City-based guitarist Koran Agan has kept a busy schedule gigging five nights a week, touring and recording for the past decade. He has been leading his jazz quartet, which is heavily influenced by Django Reinhardt and his trio, through countless performances in the city and beyond. With his interpretations of the great American songbook, be-bop classics, or bal-musette waltzes, his guitar work is highly sought after.

Koran has appeared in numerous venues including the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Burlington Jazz Festival, Django Reinhardt Northwest Festival, Django A Go-Go New York City Festival, Joe’s Pub Public Theatre, the Bower Ballroom and Smalls Jazz Club among others.

Born in Paris in 1985, Michael Valeanu has been playing the guitar since he was 14 years old. While in Paris, he studied with musicians/instructors such as Eric Daniel, Yves Brouqui, Laurent Coq, Guillaume Naturel, Stéphane Kochoyan.

After graduating from EDIM/Conservatoire National de Bourg-la-Reine with a diploma in jazz studies, Valeanu moved in 2008, to New York to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he studied with Lage Lund, Jonathan Kreisberg, Ari Hoenig, Charlie Persip, Charles Tolliver, and Robert Sadin. In 2010, he was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

At 27 years of age, Sam Anning is one of Australia’s foremost up-and-coming jazz musicians. After graduating from WAAPA completing a bachelor of jazz (performance), Sam went on to study and perform in New York City, the U.K., and Europe, where he also developed and broadened his compositional and performance style.

He received the Toyota Scholarship for Jazz (2001), was a finalist in the James Morrison Scholarship twice, performed in Sydney as a finalist in the 2006 Freedman Fellowship, was a finalist in the 2007 Melbourne Prize for Music, received third place in the 2008 National Jazz Awards, and received the 2008 Bell Award for Young Jazz Musician of the Year. Sam has performed with a large number of national and international artists and has been featured as an accompanist and soloist on a number of recordings.

Rajiv Jayaweera grew up playing in Melbourne, Australia, and completed his bachelor of music at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2000. He quickly became one of Australia’s most sought-after drummers and performed, toured and recorded with many of the country’s leading musicians and ensembles.

He regularly performed with The Joe Chindamo Trio, Bennett’s Lane Big Band, Sam Anning Quintet, Bopstretch, The Australian Art Orchestra, Way Out West, James Sherlock Trio, Steve Magnussen, Jamie Oehlers, Andrea Keller, Gian Slater, Eugene Ball, among others.

In August 2011, Rajiv moved to New York to study for his masters in jazz studies at SUNY Purchase College, with John Riley as his private teacher. Since moving to New York, he has performed with The Kenny Werner Trio, Joel Frahm, Cyrille Aimee, Louis Armstrong Centennial Band and The Florian Hoefner Quartet and has recently recorded albums with Michael Valeanu, Rotem Sivan, Cyrille Aimee, Angela Davis, Ragstretch and Jakob Dinesen.

Get tickets early Plummer advises, as he is confident that this will be a sold-out event.  Tickets may be reserved online at, or by calling the WSCC box office at 843-5507.  Box office hours areMonday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Cyrille Aimee is being brought to WSCC through a successful partnership between the college and MSU’s Wharton Center; this partnership has helped bring to the college and the area many renowned artists.

For additional information about the Cyrille Aimée concert, contact Plummer, or call him at 843-5928.

Area Churches