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Album Review

Latches is a band that will immediately be pegged as a retro-gypsy jazz, post-Django Reinhardt/Hot Club of France knock-off. But upon further review and a closer listen to this, their debut album, they turn out to be a group where the hot jazz style is a point of departure, and from there they begin to delve into the farther reaches of traditional and modernist sounds. Three acoustic guitarists — Steeve Laffont, Yorgui Loeffler, Chriss Campion — and bassist Gino Roman, all in their late twenties to early thirties, play masterfully, with loads of youthful energy and drive far beyond their years. Mostly dedicated to unison as opposed to counterpoint, the symmetry, tightness and togetherness of the band will easily impress any lover of this style. They come out of the box swinging heartily on the standard "Sweet Georgia Brown," a simmering then boiling version of Reinhardt's "Nuits De Saint Germain Des Pres," and a deliberate, slightly modified melodic take of the famous "Topsy." The upbeat waltz of "Valse a Lulu," Django's frantic, cartoonish, Raymond Scott like "Rythme Futur," and a jumping, boppish "Peche A La Mouche" are all tunes you'd expect. "Symphonie" is the most uncomplicated, simple swing tune. But the original numbers yield a few out-of-the-box ideas. Laffont's "Djazz" is typically sweet, low and has "future standard" stamped on it, while Campion's "Yentl" is a slow curveball, Roman's "Romano" is a Brazilian-flavored tune, and Loeffler's "For Kyriassa" is equally heartfelt in its pining, midtempo love song style. The closer, Chick Corea's "Got a Match" melds European convention with the contemporary, bouncy sound Corea has patented, and it works well. A credible debut effort, it will be interesting to see whether Latches continues mining the deep well of Reinhardt's populist music, or perhaps use Corea's concept as a springboard to create truly different music. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Latchès, Latchès
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