Pearl Django: Chasing Shadows (2005)
Pearl Django's very name should give you a pretty strong clue about where the group derives most of its influence. Indeed, the band's eighth release, Chasing Shadows, continues to mine the fertile territory laid by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. As always, the playing is expert, with a palpable sense of joy evident in the exploration of music these players obviously love.
A melancholy mood pervaded the recording of Chasing Shadows, owing to the death of founding member and guitarist Dudley Hill in January, 2005 after a battle with colon cancer, but the music remains ebullient. The band added three musicians to help spice up the album: French guitarist Patrick Saussois, Seattle drummer Mark Ivester, and Seattle area accordionist David Lange. Saussois composed "Gypsy-attle for the sessions, and the song's insistent, quick tempo is like a challenge to your feet to not start tapping. Likewise, Lange proves a valuable addition by adding some appropriately Parisian accordion to "Bluesette. Throughout, Ivester brings a sure sense of swing and sensitive but forceful punctuation.
The original members shine as well. Violinist Michael Gray contributes some lovely devil-may-care lines to "La Vie En Rose. The twin guitar tandem of Neil Andersson and Greg Ruby provides wonderful mutual support on "September Song. Of course, the emotional high point of the disc is the duo performance of "Boise Jump by Andersson and Hill, recorded in 1992. A special bond between the two musicians is immediately evident, adding a poignant final touch to an uncommonly enjoyable and skillful album.
Track Listing: No. 19; Bluesette; Samba Du Cabaret Rouge; Tres Palabras; I Never Knew; Besame Mucho; Long Gone; Trois Et Deux; La Vie En Rose; Gypsy-attle; September Song; You Must Believe In Spring; Boise Jump.
Personnel: Neil Andersson: guitar; Michael Gray: violin; Rick Leppanen: double bass; Greg Ruby: guitar; Mark Ivester: drums; David Lange: accordion; Patrick Saussois: guitar.