Jermaine Landsberger: Babik

In his debut album on Resonance, Jermaine Landsberger breaks the sound barrier and a number of musical misconceptions along the way. While gadje (non-gypsy) Hot Club enthusiasts across the world are fervently woodshedding their pompe, along comes this astounding Sinti keyboardist, hard-bopping a Django tune as if it had been penned in a 52nd Street back alley and shot off in a rocket.

While Getting’ Blazed is full of stellar performances, including three tracks featuring the venerable Pat Martino, the level of musicianship on “Babik” is positively jaw-dropping. Backed by the laser precision of Genus and Mason, Landsberger delivers a modern, electrified treatment of the tune Django Reinhardt had written in honor of his second son. This is not as blasphemous as it may seem to the diehard jazz Manouche fans; Babik Reinhardt was a fine jazz guitarist in his own right, but he preferred playing bebop over the more traditional Gypsy swing of his legendary father.

Through the furious changes, Landsberger fires off crisp, throaty B-3 riffs, sounding like Joey DeFrancesco on steroids, his lines rousing and insightful. James Genus’s lively and lyrical bass solo cooks admirably. But it is guitarist Andreas Öberg who puts the sizzle on the steak, burning up his Benedetto archtop with molten-hot bop lines delivered with insane speed and clarity. Babik Reinhardt would surely dig this.

April 16, 2009 · 0 comments


Evan Christopher: Douce Ambience

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. ('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.

November 29, 2008 · 0 comments


The Rosenberg Trio: Rhythme Futur

Django Reinhardt's ground-breaking composition has always been a harried, disturbing glimpse into a chaotic future as well as a challenge for accomplished guitarists and seasoned jazz Manouche enthusiasts alike. A remarkable departure from Django's usual Hot Club fare, this number lives in a nightmare world on the edge of the modal universe. Whole-tone and Locrian-based phrases hit the listener at a breakneck tempo against a sinister flat-5 backdrop, with little comfort from an ascending flat-6 arpeggio bridge over very troubled waters.

Stochelo Rosenberg's performance at the 2003 Django Fest in Samois was remarkable in many ways, but his flawless, precise rendition of this difficult piece was a high point of the festival and, fortunately for us, has been captured in this marvelous recording.

August 14, 2008 · 0 comments


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