Aimee Nolte’s “Looking for the Answers” is gentle and forthright jazz

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Aimee Nolte is a pianist, vocalist and composer whose skills and interests have made her popular on YouTube. “Looking for the Answers” is the performer’s third album. Since 2005, Nolte has been recording music. On this latest album, she sings lead and backup vocals, and extends her talents to piano, synth bass and organ. In addition, Nolte has done the arrangements and production for every song on the album.

Nolte’s basis in Los Angeles gives her access to some of the best musicians in Southern California. Among them are bassist Bruce Lett, guitarist Mike Scott, drummer James Yoshizawa, along with woodwind players John Reilly and Doug Webb. Legendary bass player John Clayton even appears on one song.

“Looking for the Answers” is 11 songs that address romantic and harrowing moments in a relatively gentle way. The instrumentation adds to the tone and helps Nolte make her point. As stellar as the musicianship is on the album (including Nolte’s), what stands out is Nolte’s voice. She has a singer-songwriter’s vocal instrument.

About Aimee Nolte

Nolte began playing piano at the tender age of three years old. Her instrument selection was all the more shocking to her parents when the toddler began to plink out the melody to “Silent Night.” That was only the beginning. Nolte’s technique was refined by 10 years of studying classical piano. In 1998, she graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in jazz piano.

In 2005, Nolte recorded her first album, “Up Till Now” and in 2010, released “Just Us.” In addition to recording, Nolte creates YouTube videos that have earned her 140,000 subscribers. She tackles the topics of harmony, arranging and jazz piano techniques.

“Looking for the Answers” by Aimee Nolte

The songs on “Looking for the Answers” have a sensibility to them that might remind some listeners of pop music of Sixpence None the Richer. Nolte’s approach is so low-key that some would maybe overlook her ability to address a #MeToo moment from her youth. Not that Nolte calls it that. However, her song “You Should’ve” addresses exactly such an incident. She discusses not only her pain, but what the perpetrator did to himself as a result. While the issue has resolved in appropriate consequences for theĀ  teacher, the song is beautifully, with a crush of piano and Nolte’s clear vocals. Her voice is high, but not stratospherically. Surprisingly, Nolte’s tone is not one of bitterness, but of reason. Even as she scolds the perpetrator, the emotional quality never gets the best of her.

For jazz fans looking for a relatively new voice coupled with stellar piano skills, Nolte’s latest album is perfect.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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