Little Flower celebrates the connection between New Orleans and France which was musically enhanced by the residence of brilliant Crescent City clarinetist Sidney Bechet and his great admiration for France. As it should be, the album begins with the cut title, its signature tune, softly performed by singer Cyrille Aimee, originally from France, who is supported by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) led by drummer Adonis Rose. The song naturally fits both entities with Ricardo Pascal delivering a beautiful soprano saxophone solo that works in a tonal and soulful way in place of the usual clarinet. The calming vibe continues on “What are you doing the rest of your life?” on which Aimee sings in French which is enhanced by an elegant orchestration with trumpeter Aslin Parker providing a sharp solo.
A total change of pace occurs as the whole team returns to New Orleans for Jelly Roll Morton’s “Get the Bucket” with the guys from the band stepping in on vocals and some lively chatter. It moves and everyone is having fun.
A step back to the big band’s romantic climax fulfills “In the Land of the Beginning Again”, on which Aimee shows off her impressive broadcasting skills by perhaps referring to the great singers of the time like Ella Fitzgerald . She offers more scat but at a much faster pace on “Undecided” and picks up the sax solo before swapping bars with Thresher Rose.
Despite the emphasis on things that many would consider in retrospect, Little Flower remains brilliant thanks to the great local talent that makes up the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. These guys are hip and you can hear it.