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Album Review

John Jorgenson still has difficulty shaking the image of being a country artist in the minds of some fans due to his tenure with the Desert Rose Band, even though he has worked extensively on his own since that group disbanded in the early '90s. But the guitarist has long been interested in the Gypsy swing of the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and has recorded several CDs in that genre that still likely end up placed in the country sections of record stores. This 2007 release features Jorgenson leading a different kind of group than Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli had with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, as he substitutes Stephan Dudash (on a five-string viola) and percussion in the place of a second rhythm guitarist. Most of Jorgenson's nine originals are very much in the Gypsy swing tradition and his mastery of his instrument is apparent throughout the date, with highlights including the engaging "Bossa Orpheum." Not everything is completely in the Gypsy swing mold; "Ultraspontane" has a Middle Eastern flavor, while the playful "G-Funk" adds the Nashville String Quartet to accompany the guitarist and bassist Charlie Chadwick. "La Journee des Tziganes" (which also adds the strings) also has a contemporary swing flavor, with hints of David Grisman. The one standard is a lightly swinging "Don't Worry 'Bout Me," which adds a warm vocal by Beryl Davis, while Jorgenson also interprets Reinhardt's "Improvisation No. 1" and "Improvisation No. 2" with finesse. John Jorgenson the jazz guitarist is obviously here to stay.

Ultraspontane, John Jorgenson Quintet
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