How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The Hot Club of Detroit's Night Town is a tour de force full of hard-swinging, toe-tapping arrangements of gypsy jazz standards and original compositions penned by members of the ensemble. Having won four Detroit Music Awards, Shannon Wade (bass), Carl Cafagna (clarinet), Evan Perri (guitar), Julien Labro
(accordion) and Paul Brady (guitar) are setting their sites on the national and international scene, and Night Town is the perfect vehicle for the HCOD to broaden and expand its audience.
While the ensemble was originally formed to perform traditional gypsy jazz-influenced music, at which it is more than adept, Night Town also showcases its ability to perform in other genres such as bebop and hard bop. One of the highlights of the album is the group's arrangement of the Miles Davis
classic, "Seven Steps to Heaven." It may seem like a bold choice for a band without a drummer or percussionist, but the combination of Brady's strong, rhythmic guitar work, Labro's intricate comping patterns and the group's tight performance during the melody section breathes new life into this often-covered tune.
The HCOD also showcases its ability to perform in Latin and Brazilian styles on "Coquette," "Night Town" and "Two Weeks." Perri and Cafagna shine in their improvisations on these tunes. Far from being one-trick ponies, these musicians can step between several musical genres and situations with the greatest of ease. These changes in pace, from the gypsy-style tunes for which the group is largely known, help prevent the album from becoming stale, which in turn make the swing and gypsy tunes stand out that much more.
The HCOD is at its very best throughout this recording. Whether it's on a gypsy, bossa, tango or swing tune, the group dynamic is always present and the arrangements are extremely tight. With catchy melodies, finger-snapping grooves and hard-driving improvisations, Night Town is an album of the highest quality, both musically and intellectually.
Track Listing: I Want to Be Happy; J'Attendrai; Valse a Rosenthal; Seven Steps to Heaven; Speevy; Coquette; Sweet Substitute; Blues Up and Down; Pour Parler; Melodie au Crepuscule; Two Weeks; Tzigane; Django's Monkey; Night Town; Swing 05.
Personnel: Shannon Wade: bass; Carl Cafagna: woodwinds; Evan Perri: guitar; Julien Labro: accordion; Paul Brady: guitar.