'..this exhuberant debut set by a septet who positively bubble with diversity in their...
John Armstrong 2004-11-22
The jokey, ultra-Englishreference to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's legendary gypsy-swing band Hot Club De Paris is more than justified in the substance of this exhuberantdebut set by a septet who positively bubble with diversity in their refreshing choice of styles and repertoire.
It's a mixture of Broadway classics like "Them There Eyes", "Nature Boy" and "I Found A New Baby" together with klezmer and east Europeanfavourites both authentic ("Bei Meir Bist Du Schon", "Russian Lullaby") and enjoyably coddish (Kenny Ball's 60s chart-topper "Midnight In Moscow"). What could have sounded too much of a good thing in less talented musical hands is glued together beautifully by a real knowledge of and feel for those classicHot Club elements of duelling acoustic guitars and violin, ragtime syncopation and vintage, New Orleans-style improvising: so the whole set sounds integrated and natural.
Guitarists Bruce Beachley and Phil Grispo certainly know their Django from their Lonnie Johnson. Tom Mason's violin pumps fresh life into the obligatory Reinhardt/Grappellipiece Oriental Shuffle, and vocalistKatja Prudinsky injects swank, swing and spunk into several languages (including a lovely version of "Besame Mucho").
A particularly nice touch is the brass section of Trevor Walker (trumpet) and Adrian Fry (trombone). Although brass and woodwind weren't exactly unknown to the classic Paris swing combos of the 20s and 30s, they were the exception rather than the rule.
But probably the most distinctive feature of this record is the trumpet of Howerd Simpson,whose innovative playing adds real novelty to what might otherwise have been in danger of becoming a straight homage album (albeit a good one) to those distant, smoke-filled boites of Montmarte and Saint-Michel.
However,I suspect that this band really come into their own with live performance. I'd certainly have them at my wedding party, no contest. Preferably at Oxford Street's legendary 100 Club where diehard fans of the old Diz Dizley Hot Club group would immediately recognize these natural-born soulmates.
The CD is currently only available through Planet Records (firstname.lastname@example.org) and will be on general release through Universal in February 2005.