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Album Review

The Hot Club of Detroit's fourth studio-album, 2012's Junction, builds upon the group's longstanding knack for mixing exploratory post-bop, soulful contemporary jazz, and French chanson into its foundation of swinging Django Reinhardt-style Gypsy jazz. Once again showcasing the talents of guitarists Evan Perri and Paul Brady, as well as accordionist Julien Labro, the album also introduces the new line-up of saxophonist Jon Irabagon, vocalist Cyrille Aimee, bassist Shawn Conley, and guest saxophonist Andrew Bishop. There is a more expansive, somewhat ruminative post-rock vibe on a few of the songs here, suggesting that the internal changes in the band's lineup led them down heretofore unexplored creative avenues. Irabagon brings several compositions to the table, including the lead-off soul-jazz meets Gypsy-swing number "Goodbye, Mr. Anderson." Also interesting is Labro's "Chutzpah," which deftly mixes moments of avant-garde saxophone skronk and free jazz with sections of melodic swing. French-born Aimee, who took third place in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, brings a sound that encompasses both the throaty, intimate style of the French cabaret tradition and the virtuoso chops of Ella Fitzgerald on such numbers as the breezy "La Foule," the torchy ballad "Django Mort," and an inspired reworking of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." Elsewhere, Irabagon and Ann Arbor native Bishop dive into an amiable sparring session on "Hey!" and the band sticks to its frenetic instrumental sound on the Carl Stalling-esque "Puck Bunny." These are sophisticated recordings that make the most of the band's varied musical abilities, resulting in an album brimming with cross-pollinated musical sounds and textures.

Biography

Formed: 2003 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Led by guitarist Evan Perri, the Hot Club of Detroit are among the 21st century groups that have been updating the Gypsy swing style popularized by the seminal Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt -- who was only 43 when he died of a brain hemorrhage on May 16, 1953 but continued to influence a long list of disciples more than half a century after his death. Some Gypsy jazz artists of the 21st century are purists who go out of their way to emulate Reinhardt's classic recordings of the '30s and '40s,...
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Junction, Hot Club of Detroit
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