Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tres Bien! Hot Club of Detroit

So Neats and I are going to escape to Montreal for the weekend where we have not been since we honeymooned there (as children--without children) nearly 20 years ago.  This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about the new album, Night Town, by the Hot Club of Detroit since jazz and Montreal are clearly just one step away from Paris, n'est-ce pas?    Obviously named after the Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist St├ęphane Grappelli, this is a guitar-based, 1930's-influenced swing band focused on Django-compositions,  but there is more.

These guys clearly love the Django and so do I.  In fact, I generally don't want hear anyone trying to copy Django as I almost always react to bands trying to emulate him and his band by thinking of Emmet Ray in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown--Emmet was the greatest guitar man in the world . . . except Django--and often I feel the same way about Django influenced groups.

But with that caveat,  I have got to say that I have been really enjoying this album by Hot Club of Detroit (HCoD), both for it's straight up Hot Club sound (and all of Paris clubs and cafes that it evokes) but also their efforts to expand the repertoire to include other jazz idioms.  And there is no denying that these guys can swing.  If you aren't into Django and the 30's sound you won't like it.  If you are but can't accept a modernized and cleaner sound of that music (which I understand), you also won't like HCoD.   But if you are into Django and can deal with a bit more polished sound  (and you also dig the move from the 30's swing sound to the Blue Note years), I am going to bet you enjoy this effort.
To give you a sample, here are three tracks.  First is "J'attendrai" which was, of course, recorded by Django (and others), followed by "Speevy" which is written by Reinhardt and Grappelli--these should give you the sense of the great playing by the band and thier reverence for the traditional Hot Club sound--particularly by lead guitarist Evan Perri.  Then to give you a sense of the expansionist sense of HCoD, we have "Blues Up and Down,"  a Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt tune that allows Carl Cafagna to show off a bit more muscular tenor sax (although he blends his alto well into many of the other tunes).  All around, a swingin' affair.
So open up the red wine, order some pommes frites, and take a listen.

Hot Club of Detroit:  Night Town (Buy Album)

Blues Up and Down


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