I have been fussy about modern re-enactments of “Gypsy jazz” in the past, but here are two superb CDs that you should know about.
I didn’t know about DJANGOLOGIE until I had the good fortune to hear Emma D. Fisk play at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party. She is a find: a violinist with a dark rich tone, a love for melody, and a way of swinging without being syrupy. And the Gypsy jazz quartet she’s part of, DJANGOLOGIE, is as good a group as she is a player. A very uncluttered instrumentation: Emma, James Birkett, guitar; Giles Strong, guitar; Mick Shoulder, double bass. Here is the group’s Facebook page.
Their CD, A NEW LEAF, mixes QHCF repertoire — pre and postwar — LADY BE GOOD, SHEIK OF ARABY, NUAGES, MINOR SWING, J’ATTENDRAI, TROUBLANT BOLERO, ARTELLERIE LOURDE, DARK EYES — with engaging originals by Mick Shoulder, DANS MON ENDROIT TRANQUILLE, BEAUTIFUL TILL 3, DJANGO’S STOMP, SINISTER DRAG, and FEUILLE D’AUTOMNE. The recording is very beautiful for many reasons: the guitarists pass melody and rhythm back and forth; Shoulder holds it all together; Emma calmly soars. Here’s some musical evidence:
That’s only thirty-nine seconds, so we need more:
And here’s the group’s rocking version of THE SHEIK:
They’re original without losing the sweet intensity of their heroic forebears, in the tradition without copying the Reinhardt-and-Grappelli trademark runs and gestures. The CD is available through CDBaby and Amazon, although (as always) the best way to get a copy is to hand money directly to members of the group — in between sets — and see them smile at you.
Moving from the UK to the US, I can recommend SOME LIKE IT HOT CLUB — a quartet of a different slant, based in New Jersey, with Alex E. Soudah, guitar; Rob Cuellari, guitar; Frank Slingerland, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Jerry D’Anna, string bass.
Their CD begins with a clever link to the Billy Wilder film from which they draw their name, but what follows is light-hearted, not comical. They lean more to the postwar Reinhardt instrumentation, but they are flexible and swinging: DOUCE AMBIANCE, MANOIR DE MES REVES, LA FOULE, LADY BE GOOD, CARAVAN, MONTAIGNE SAINTE-GENEVIEVE, MINOR SWING. I don’t have any videos to post of the group, but they have appeared in New Jersey to great acclaim — most recently pleasing audiences at a New Jersey Jazz Society concert. So do look them up! This is their Facebook page.
May your happiness increase!