Sunday 22 April 2018

Sounds of the famous five from both past and present


Stefon Harris and Blackout present: Urbanus (Concord Jazz)

Harris (vibraphone, marimba), Casey Benjamin (alto sax, vocoder), Marc Cary (piano, keyboards, Fender Rhodes), Ben Williams (bass), Terreon Gully (drums) plus guests on five tracks.

EXCEPT for the pianist, this is the same quintet that played at the Bray Jazz Festival earlier this year. The best tracks are those by the quintet without guest musicians, especially the quirky Minor March and The Afterthought. Somehow the bigger groups don't work so well, despite the agreeable sounds made by two flutes and three clarinets. To hear more exciting big-band music by Harris, listen to his 2003 CD The Grand Unification Theory (Blue Note).

Reinhardt/Grappelli: Swing from Paris (Living Era)

Django Reinhardt (guitar), Stephane Grappelli (violin), Joseph Reinhardt (guitar), Pierre Ferret/Eugene Vees/Roger Chaput (guitar), Louis Vola/Tony Rovira/Emmanuel Soudieux/Roger Grassnet (bass). Rec. 1935-1939.

Twenty-two tracks from the vintage years of the Quintette du Hot Club de France make up a great collection of the group's work in the Thirties. Musically, the Reinhardt-Grappelli partnership was made in heaven. Personally, it did not always run so smoothly, as the well-organised violinist found the gypsy guitarist's volatile temperament a bit trying at times. The quintet varied in personnel, but it always had two rhythm guitars and a double bass providing a solid beat behind the leaders.

The tracks include originals by Reinhardt and Grappelli as well as tunes by W.C. Handy, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. The pace varies from leisurely to lightning, but at every tempo the legendary French group is the epitome of swing.

Next Thursday night in the John Field Room, Susannah de Wrixon pays tribute to the late Blossom Dearie, singer, pianist and songwriter. The backing group is led by Phil Ware.

Sunday Independent

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