These delightful performances — poised yet utterly relaxed — emerged on YouTube only two weeks ago. I’ve been enjoying them over and over: they owe a good deal to the glory days of the John Kirby Sextet, always a debt to be celebrated. The four musicians here are trumpeter / arranger Jérôme Etcheberry, the cherished clarinetist Aurélie Tropez, pianist Jacques Schneck, and guitarist Nicolas Montier. In the great tradition of “swinging the classics,” les Swingberries offer Offenbach’s “Cancan” from Orpheus in the Underworld:
From Hades to religious exaltation might be a substantial leap, but not for this compact hot band — here, they perform Youmans’ HALLELUJAH:
It looks like a happy band — that’s why LAUGHING AT LIFE (with hints of BROADWAY, Charlie Christian, and Lester Young) seems just right:
Another “classical” piece — the RADETZKY MARCH by Johann Strauss — is transformed into the “JAZZETZKY MARCH,” and not a moment too soon. Admire the clarinet-guitar duet: simple splendor!
Here’s a romping BLUE ROOM (leaving no time for “my wee head upon your knee,” because that knee is rocking so violently):
I hear beautifully-executed ensemble work, lovely tempos, exquisite solo playing (not a note too many), and a deeply felt intuitive swing. The group isn’t copying — they’re evoking and reinventing in their own ways — but if I heard this music in the other room, I could be fooled into thinking that 1941 had come again. And I would want to follow those notes! And for connoisseurs of “. . . they sound like,” I would offer the little band that Lester and Shad Collins led in 1941, the Goodman Sextet of that same year, the early-Forties Teddy Wilson groups with joe Thomas, Emmett Berry, Ed Hall, Jimmy Hamilton. V-Discs and Keynote Records, too. But they sound just wonderful — as a new species of delicious jazz fruit.
My only complaint is that they seem to be playing in someone else’s living room. Why not mine?