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Gipsy Trio

Biréli Lagrène

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Album Review

Bireli Lagrene's long and outstanding career as a Django Reinhardt disciple has been reinforced time and time again, while he also makes inroads to extend and expand the tradition of gypsy jazz. While his acoustic guitar wizardry is unquestioned, his sincerity in keeping the hot swing of Reinhardt alive has been adopted by others, but not like Lagrene is capable of playing it. This drummerless trio with veteran bassist Diego Imbert and rhythm guitarist Hono Winterstein — heard in recent times with the Dorado Schmitt family band — is an exciting, tasteful, and skilled combo that takes liberties in this kind of vintage jazz without stressing it out. Many of these tracks are familiar old favorites, but a few have new twists, not to mention energy to burn. A version of Ahmad Jamal's "Poinciana" in particular has never really been done with a Parisian flair, and it's a nice change-up. "Limehouse Blues" is another chestnut given new incentive to swing with Imbert's bowed lines and rhythm churning more that normal. Most delightful is "Singing in the Rain," already joyful but here happy, over the top with an additionally whistled refrain. And "Tiger Rag" is about as playful, fun, and vigorous as it gets. One might wonder what George Harrison would think of a take on his pensive classic tune "Something," done in easy swing mode, or see George Shearing listening to a chunky, stride-filled version of "Lullaby of Birdland." Of the originals, "New York City" is a fast-paced metropolitan subway jam, "Sir F.D." for label honcho Francis Dreyfus has Lagrene in a languid solo repast, and "Made in France" has a choppy, 6/8 romp. There are some patient tunes indeed, but Lagrene is at heart a speed demon, ripping up the lesser-known Reinhardt tune "Micro" as if he's playing it in a vat of lit sterno. This is yet another in the long line of fine recordings the virtuoso Lagrene has offered to the world, and comes easily recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 04 September 1966 in Saverene, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

When Bireli Lagrene's Routes to Django: Live was issued in 1980, the 13-year-old jazz guitarist was immediately praised by critics as a protégé of Django Reinhardt. He had already won a prize in a festival at Strasbourg in 1978, and his appearance at a Gypsy festival was broadcast on television. For the next five years, Lagrene would mime Reinhardt's style, even recording versions of the master's "Nuages" and "Djangology" on Swing '81. Over time, however, his role as a protégé began to seem limited....
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Gipsy Trio, Biréli Lagrène
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