Jazz à la gitane - Bands of Gypsies
Various Artists & Various Artists
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It’s hard to think of a more buoyant 20th-century musical genre than Gypsy Jazz, a meeting of American swing, Roma (Gypsy) traditions, and other elements. During its peak years — the 1930s to the ‘50s — Gypsy Jazz was centered in Paris around its most well known figure, the brilliant guitarist Django Reinhardt. Bands of Gypsies includes tracks credited to Reinhardt and to his famous band, Quintette du Hot Club de Jazz, and Reinhardt’s brother Joseph and the Ferret brothers also appear here. This excellent collection opens with a jumpin’ track, “Hungaria,” performed by André Ekyen, a lively saxophonist, and a group that included Reinhardt on guitar. Eddie South, a classically trained African-American violinist from Chicago, was influenced by Roma music and “Black Gypsy” is marked by a classical touch, hints of the blues, and a number of striking glissandi. Reinhardt’s “Tears” is spare and slow, and it’s lovely. But those are just a few highlights; there’s a whole lot more to check out here, including “Swing Valse,” a gem by the Belgian-born button accordion player Gus Viseur, a master of the French style known as musette.