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Posted by: dbrierly from: Studio City, CA on
Je vous salue, Azica Records. That’s what gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt would doubtless say about this amazing tribute recording led by modern guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola. The title “100 Years of Django,” alludes not only to the fact that a century has passed since Reinhardt’s birth in 1910, but also to the nearly 100 songs he wrote during his all too brief lifetime. As Vignola points out in the track notes, this CD is intended to spotlight Reinhardt’s prowess as a composer. In addition to familiar favorites like “Swing Gitane,” “Tears” and “Nuages,” Vignola has included some lesser-known gems—notably “Diminishing Blackness,” with its Brazilian-tinged, impressionistic vibe; and “Mystery Pacific,” a rarely heard piece that speeds along with a rhythmic propulsion reminiscent of a train chugging down the tracks. Vignola has assembled a cracking band to interpret these tunes, including Vinny Raniolo on rhythm guitar, Gary Mazzaroppi on bass and Julien Labro on accordion. Vignola delivers one compelling solo after another, foregrounding his stylistic individuality while evoking Reinhardt’s bittersweet sound and quicksilver swing. Labro is equally virtuosic on the accordion, its smoky tones calling to mind the prewar jazz clubs in which Reinhardt came to prominence. This is one of those recordings that starts out in high gear and seems to get better as it goes along. The musicians are completely locked into the groove and sound as if they’ve been playing together for years. “100 Years of Django” was recorded in a church, which contributes to the live feel of the performances, and the notable warmth of the sound. The commitment to the spirit of Django Reinhardt is manifest in every track, as is the pure joy each musician brings to this timeless music.
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