Evan Christopher: Douce Ambience
Evan Christopher (clarinet)
Django à la Créole (Classic Jazz / Le Jazzetal LJCD09)
Evan Christopher (clarinet),
Dave Blenkhorn (guitar), Dave Kelbie (guitar), Sebastien Giradot (bass).
Composed by Django Reinhardt.
Recorded: Abergavenny, no date given (CD released in 2008)
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
You may not see much coverage of traditional jazz in the media (or even the jazz media, for that matter), but it is alive and well; and no sector of trad-ville is more vibrant than the gypsy caravan on the outskirts of town. Django has passed from jazz history and become a figure of mythic resonance: indeed, few jazz figures from before WWII have a more devoted following nowadays, or exert such a powerful ongoing influence on the current scene. (Jazz.com's Bill Barnes will give you an insider's look at this subculture here.)
Clarinet is not a common instrument in this style of jazz performance, which is heavily tilted toward the strings. But you wouldn't know it from Evan Christopher's deliciously languorous approach to "Douce Ambience." He elicits a rich, smoky tone from his horn, and puts such a personal stamp on his melody statement that you don't even need to wait for the solos to appreciate that you are in the hands of a master stylist. But please do wait for the solos. Christopher & Co. work their taut phrases over a dark, tango-ish swing and with no wasted energy. Très douce.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia