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Gypsy Swing

Harmonious Wail

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Album Review

While there are a number of artists on the jazz scene that have an affinity for the signature sounds of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli, there are few bands left that work solely within the gypsy swing framework. Harmonious Wail is one of those outfits that still uphold the older traditions, and do so admirably well. Here, they take into account all aspects of gypsy swing: the string jazz from the Quintette du Hot Club du France, the Eastern European additions to the form, and the innovations brought about by the samba and bossa nova's introduction to the paradigm. The string playing of the band members is certainly something worth hearing (they arguably rival that of Seattle's Pearl Django in authenticity and ability). The guitar and bass play off one another perfectly, powering the pieces forward (especially where influences of Brazilian rhythm make themselves known). The opposite side of the coin is the vocals of the group. While well-intentioned, the singing rarely fits the beauty of the strings. Maggie Delaney Potthoff does a nice job of singing, but usually in more of a blues format that seems a little brash for the texture of the jazz at hand. Highlights include "Bossa Dorado," a nice, thumping piece inspired by the bossa nova, and "Minor Swing," the only Reinhardt composition on the album, but a classic by all respects, and worked well by the crew here. For gypsy swing, the first place to go is always to the originators of the form (the Hot Club), but Harmonious Wail isn't a bad choice for a later addition, complete with some of the newer influences to the genre.

Gypsy Swing, Harmonious Wail
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Nov 07, 2003

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