Bireli Lagrene: Luck Be A Lady


Luck be a Lady



Blue Eyes (Dreyfus 36591-2)

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Maurice Vander (piano), Chris Minh Doky (bass), André Ceccarelli (drums).

Composed by Frank Loesser


Recorded: Paris, France, June 9-10, 1997


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

This track would make for a great blindfold test. Guitarist Bireli Lagrene, well-known for his Gypsy Jazz and fusion projects, singing (!) a tune from the musical "Guys and Dolls" made famous by Frank Sinatra. In fact, on his excellent but unfortunately little-noticed tribute CD, Blue Eyes, Lagrene vocalizes on four of 13 standards associated with Sinatra, whose records he had fallen in love with as a youth. One of the keys to making this salute to Frank work so well was the addition of veteran pianist Maurice Vander to Lagrene's working trio at the time. Vander is an always lyrical, often romantic, technically gifted, and vivacious player who had performed in the past with Django Reinhardt, Don Byas, and Stéphane Grappelli.

The combination of Chris Minh Doky's driving bass line and Vander's elegant chords establishes the ambiance for Lagrene's singing of the lyrics to "Luck be a Lady" in only very slightly accented English. Lagrene sings faithfully to Sinatra's revered style—self-confident, a little cocky, pitch-perfect, and easefully articulate. Vander romps through his piano solo with ringing clarity, fresh voicings, and a relentless swing. Lagrene opens his boppish guitar improv with a delightful quote from Horace Silver's "Sister Sadie," before moving on to full-bodied, surging lines to which he soon adds seamless scatting accompaniment, à la George Benson. His vocal reprise, augmented by André Ceccarelli's crisply precise rim patterns, gives way in the end to a tricky, well-rendered tag by Vander and Doky.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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