Having had the pleasure of recently seeing Dorado Schmitt and his brother-in-law, Hono Winterstein, at the Kennedy Center with the Django Reinhardt Festival All Stars, I recently purchased online the 2009 Dreyfus Jazz release Family. This recording includes his children, Amati, Bronson, Samson along with Hono and Dorado’s nephew Brady Winterstein, with Marcel Loeffler on accordion, Gautier Laurent on bass and Stéphane Huchard on drums.
Given the closeness of the families among the Romany and the centrality of music in their lives, it should be no surprised that Dorado Schmitt has progeny that themselves are so accomplished and the marvelous cohesion evident on these recordings. It is not clear who plays on which tracks they play on this. Of course Marcel Loeffler’s accordion and Stéphane Huchard’s drums will be evident and Hono Winterstein can be counted on for providing the strong rhythmic pulse, but which guitarist is taking the lead, or the order on who takes the lead is not clear, although listening to these 15 performances one is drawn in through the virtuosity yet romanticism of the playing.
The music sings and swings throughout. Dorado Schmitt himself composed six of the performances here including the opening Miro Django a lovely mid-tempo number which the guitarists bring alive with a nice accordion solo. Hono Winterstein contributed the lively Bleu Citron with an accordion-guitar lead-in. Echoes of Django might be felt on the rendition of the delightful My Blue Heaven, which is followed by the beautiful Schmitt original, For Grappelli, with such a lovely theme and such a wonderfully articulated solo that shows how virtuosity is linked to such a deep melodic sense. His Gozes Valse is a relaxed performance that he dedicated to his wife. Another lovely ballad is Un Si Beau Jour with Loeffler’s accordion adding delightful coloring.
Many will be familiar with Topsy from swing big band recordings like that by Count Basie, but Dorado and family transform into in Gypsy jazz magic with a brisk, but not too fast, tempo with imagination mixed in with the deft and clean playing. Son Samson composed Samsong a bright, lively piece that showcases his use of single note runs mixed with chords and followed by Minor Swing, one of the foundation numbers of the genre, and the equally immortal, Nuages.
Other pleasures on this marvels CD include a wistful Just a Gigolo, and a lively performance of Reinhardt and Grappelli imaginative reworking of Tiger Rag, Django’s Tiger. Dorado Schmitt’s Family is an acoustic delight that mixes the dazzling musical performances with a melodious quality that is so easy to enjoy.
As stated, I purchased this CD.