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Djangology - A Tribute to Django Reinhardt

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Album Review

The phenomenal guitarist Bireli Lagrene is joined by the WDR Big Band for a concert that is mostly a salute to Django Reinhardt, with a few modern twists added. First of all, Lagrene plays electric guitar. (Reinhardt played some electric guitar late in his career, though he is best known as an acoustic guitarist.) He also adds a vocal to a warm version of "The Shadow of Your Smile" (written over a decade after Reinhardt's death), while the opener, "Place du Tertre," is an explosive bop original by Lagrene that finds him getting a bit too coy cramming in a number of quotes ("Laura," "As Time Goes By," and even "Pop Goes the Weasel"). But Lagrene is at his very best on the numbers associated with Reinhardt. "Anouman" is a neglected gem written by Reinhardt a few years before his death; this version features Lagrene with baritone saxophonist Jens Neufang. The guitarist is on fire in the explosive post-bop setting of "Caravan." Conductor Michael Abene also provided the top-notch arrangements, and the band features a number of fine soloists.


Born: 04 September 1966 in Saverene, France

Genre: Jazz

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

When Biréli Lagrène'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, Lagrène 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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Djangology - A Tribute to Django Reinhardt, Biréli Lagrène
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