Aimée Allen, Love & the Catalyst Review
by Stamish Malcuss
Vocalist and songwriter Aimée Allen has released her last album, Love & the Catalyst. Allen presents a diverse collection of original music and a few familiar jazz songs. The album’s theme is change and the catalytic agents that bring it about. Transformation, large and small, personal and collective, social and scientific, is the theme, with the alchemy of romance explored through the surprisingly sensual metaphors of science and the cosmos. Joining Allen to create this enjoyable collection of tunes is Toru Dodo – on piano, François Moutin – on bass, Kush Abadey – on drums and guitarist Tony Romano gust on track 2, and Noah Allen guests on trumpet on track 4.
Allen begins the project with Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” The ensemble establishes a modern swing feel for Allen’s emotive voice to soar upon. Allen has a relaxed delivery and makes playful turns and variations on the original theme, making it hers. Dodo and Moutin harmonically move as one, with Abadey creating swirling rhythmic dynamics. Dodo’s solo is on point and followed by Moutin’s skillful dexterity.
“Reaction Time” switches gears to a courageous, hyperactive-lively drum and bass pulse, accompanied by Allen’s suggestive set of lyrics. Allen’s original music is passionate, fluid, and supported by a strong foundation of modern jazz sounds. Allen connects with the spirit of the great lyrics with a melody that has a memorable presence and shape. Dodo and Moutin work well together and are always sensitive to the nuances and changes in the direction of Allen’s vocals, giving the music life and much appeal.
Love & the Catalyst is a satisfying listen with Allen’s innovative originals and lyrics that are not afraid to dive deeply into meanings and issues. As well as her insightful arrangements from the jazz repertoire. It is a pleasure to hear, and the listener will reap the rewards of repeated listens to discover many gems, both musically and lyrically. Allen’s Love & the Catalyst hits all the marks for a beautiful modern vocal jazz album.