spirit of django 001LINN RECORDS  BKD237

CHEZ FERNAND

This is just one of many in a series of re-visits of previous material from Linn Records with a sub-label of Echo. In the case of this reviewer it’s all a new experience to me and I’m glad one of my clients Naxos is distributing their material. While I’m enjoying the release immensely that was not my feeling on the very first listen. I tell you this so you’ll not write it off as background/elevator music. I almost did this myself which would have meant this review would have never come to pass. Upon further listening I found this to be unique and special such as acoustic only guitars and the lack of a piano and percussion.

The ensemble consists of Martin Taylor acoustic guitar, John Goldie acoustic rhythm guitar, Alec Dankworth acoustic bass guitar and cabasa, Jack Emblow accordion, Dave O’Higgins tenor and soprano sax, and James Taylor snare drum. The sound from the acoustic material is superb, better than electric in my opinion, at at least for this recording. The feeling that it transmits is intimate yet still projecting the jazz feeling of Django.

The opening track, “Chez Fernand,” a Reinhardt composition, which I’ve included as an audio track, gives a good idea of the sound and the style as it includes the accordion and the sax both offering solos as well as the guitar section of the sextet. A long time favorite of mine is the 1932 number for Gay Divorce by Cole Porter. It is given the complete treatment (nearly 7 minutes) with the sax work of O’Higgins being featured. “Nuages” takes me back to the days of Antonio Carlos Jobim and his Latin style in a track that features Martin Taylor with John Goldie making his presence felt with some fine rhythm guitar always present in the background. Django Reinhardt, composer would have been proud with the treatment his unofficial theme song was given. “Lady Be Good,” a 1924 song from Gershwin, features the fine accordion of Emblow and Taylor’s guitar lead. “Honeysuckle Rose,” a Fats Waller tune, begins in a soft romantic vein, music you might relate to in an intimate dining experience but three minutes into the track the gears shift and there is a fine tenor sax solo from O’Higgins that make you think of Coltrane. There are also two additional Django numbers “Swing 42” and “Minor Swing” as well as an original Martin track “Django Dream,” one not to be missed.

I look forward to exploring more of Taylor as well as Ray Gelato Giants, Barb Jungr, Carol Kidd, and Claire Martin, additional Linn recording artists. The mastering was a nice well balanced recording with good highs and lows that made my Intersound speakers sound even better. There was no need on my part to change any of my settings on my amplifier. I typically listen flat with no added treble or bass and this CD fit right in. Please take the time to visit their website http://www.linnrecords.com and look at their complete catalog as well as the different downloads available to you.

To promote this recording I’m offering the opportunity to win a free CD of this new release but you must first answer a question. Which jazz violinist has Martin Taylor collaborated with on several occasions? Send your answer along with name and mailing address to wpgiveaway3@yahoo.com The contest will run until the end of the month. All correct answers will be chosen using a random number generator.

While I have no complaints with the music as you’ve just read I feel there was an omission in not listing the composers of each track. This shouldn’t influence your purchase in anyway but perhaps future releases will include this information.

Well done Linn Records!!!

Track Listing:

1…. Chez Fernand (5:05)

2…. Minor Swing (5:33)

3…. Night and Day (6:39)

4…. Nuages (4:46)

5…. James (5:48)

6…. Double Top (5:48)

7…. Django’s Dream (5:16)

8…. Swing 42 (5:38)

9…. Lady Be Good (5:14)

10.. Johnny and Mary (5:07)

Total Time is 60 minutes

Sometimes I wonder if getting to do an Xmas album with a lot of schmaltz means you’ve made it in the record industry with the seemingly endless stream of releases. When there is finally something different from a group this reviewer immediately takes notice. Such is the case with the Cool Yule release.

Operating under the guiding principle of what would Django do with bumper stickers available (www.hcsf.com), The Hot Club of San Francisco have released a refreshing change in a Xmas album for 2009. Patterned after the music performed by Grappelli and Reinhardt with the Quintette du Hot Club de France in the 30’s which featured string instruments (no percussion) in a unique jazz style. Even if you like percussion as I do your ear will quickly adapt to the bass beat.

Starting off with “Cool Yule,” a somewhat obscure Steve Allen song, the group sets the tone for the CD. Featuring a cool vocal, guitar, and violin solos in a foot stomping style the table is set. The gypsy/latin arrangement of “Don Rodolfo” follows in an arrangement of Rudolph the likes of which I’m sure you’ve not heard before. “Sugar Rum Cherry,” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and originally arranged and performed by Ellington is an example of what a jazz group can do with any melody. You can certainly hear the influence from Duke with the wa- wa trumpet. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is the only arrangement that schmaltz is the order of the day. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is the other vocal number on the CD and it is a pleasant exchange between Isabelle Fontaine and Jeff Magidson.

If your looking for something unusual and out of the ordinary for some of your Xmas music for this year I think you’ll find this release to be an attractive offering. Recommended.

CD# is Azica AJD-72242

Produced by Alan Bise

Mixing and Mastering by Alan Bise

Track Listing:

1. Cool Yule (2:17)

2. Don Rodolfo (5:00)

3. Carol of the Bells (4:53)

4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (3:00)

5. Baby It’s Cold Outside (4:23)

6. Djingle Bells (6:51)

7. Sugar Rum Cherry (3:35)

8. I Wonder As I Wonder (4:49)

9. March of the Toys (4:55)

10. The Christmas Song (4:52)

11. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (2:54)

12. Auld Lang Syne (7:40)

Total Track Time is 51:09