Hot Club of San Francisco: Vendredi 13
Hot Club of San Francisco
Bohemian Maestro: Django Reinhardt and the Impressionists (Azuca Records AJD-72241)
Clint Baker (bass), Jason Vanderford, Jeff Magidson (rhythm guitars).
Composed by Django Reinhardt.
Recorded: Cleveland, OH, 2008
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Sometimes it's reassuring just to know there are artists out there who not only have the wisdom to avoid reinventing the wheel, but are willing to keep the wheel well oiled and firmly on the road. Enthusiasts of the Hot Club Swing Revival will be happy to know that, with this take on the Reinhardt classic "Vendredi 13" (Friday the Thirteenth), the prolific Hot Club of San Francisco has all the wheels on the Django wagon rolling at a comfortable pace.
After a solid, gutbucket intro by guest pianist Jeffrey Kahane, the Quintette settles into a swinging pompe propelling the spirited violin of Evan Price, one of the West Coast's top Gypsy jazz violinists. Guitarist Paul Mehling follows with crisp, flowing lines sounding fresh and spontaneous, reminding us why the Selmer- style acoustic guitar is such a guilty pleasure to hear. As any jazz guitarist making the stylistic transition from mainstream to jazz Manouche will tell you, this is easier to accomplish in theory than in practice.
A word of caution may be in order regarding the album as a whole: bebop enthusiasts will not find much familiar ground in this ambitious recording. But those with a sense of history will recognize the connection between modern jazz and impressionist music. In keeping with the album's theme, the addition of piano on "Vendredi 13" is a nod to Maurice Ravel. According to the Bohemian Maestro liner notes, the famed composer enjoyed listening to and occasionally sat in as pianist with Reinhardt and his Quintette du Hot Club de France. Lovers of the art of jazz who approach this music with an open mind may be gratified to rediscover some valuable and sometimes forgotten roots.
Reviewer: Bill Barnes