Django à la Créole is comprised of Christopher on clarinet, David Blenkhorn on lead guitar, Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar and Sébatien Giradot on bass. As the drummer less instrumentation suggests, there is perhaps a bit more intimacy and chamber music quality to the performances similar to that of Reinhardt’s own recordings. While Reinhardt and Bechet lived in Paris for several years and likely their paths crossed, they never recorded, although Bechet recorded Nuages. 12 days after the guitarist passed. A couple of Bechet compositions bookend the eleven performances here, starting with the West Indian flavored Tropical Moon, where Blenkhorn’s guitar weaves single notes and chords around Christopher’s entrancing clarinet lead as the other two deliver a swinging rhythm. The closing Passaporte Ao Paraiso (Passport to Paradise), which is treated as a Brazilian Choro, and again displays Christopher’s warm, woody tone.
The title track was by bassist Billy Taylor and was originally recorded in a trio with Duke Ellington and clarinetist Barney Bigard. Several months later, it was recorded in Europe by Reinhardt in the company of Taylor, Bigard and Ellington trumpeter, Rex Stewart. On this, Blenkhorn states the theme before Christopher enters with a slight touch of vibrato (perhaps a bit more Bechet style on this) followed by a lovely electric guitar solo. A brisk Riverboat Shuffle features some delightful interplay between Blenkhorn and Christopher again, with Christopher’s clarinet evoking some of the charm and heat of Bix Beiderbecke’s cornet, with Blenkhorn particularly nice here.
Christopher’s Django à la Créole, is an original based on Reinhardt’s Improvisation #3 which Christopher says he arranged in the manner of the spanish tinge compositions of Jelly Roll Morton such as The Crave. The guitar accompaniment adds a flamenco accent to the performance. Solid Old Man is a charming performance of a Rex Stewart blues that was originally recorded at the same Paris session as Finesse, and displays Christopher’s warmth, tone and phrasing in his marvelous blues playing.
|Evan Christopher at Louisiana Music Factory|
The originality and invention that Evan Christopher and his associates bring is thoroughly captivating. I had been waiting for several months for Finesse to be available in the United States and the wait was well worth it. Highly recommended, this is available from www.lousianamusicfactory.com and other sources.
This was a purchase.