Monterey Notebook 2007, Part 3: Sunday
On "Flambee Montalbanese," an iconic waltz-musette originally by Gus Viseur, the music trips merrily along, Mehling's guitar lines prancing around Evan Price's sweet violin before each flies out for an uplifting solo. Slowing down for Stephane Grappelli's "Souvenir de Villingen," Price hits the sweet spot, his weeping solo momentairly silencing the chatty outdoor crowd. But it's soon back to the kind of quick, chunky swing and upbeat vibe that gives "Django music" its greatest appeal.
Although drawing its inspiration directly from Reinhardt, the Hot Club is not merely a tribute band the Beatles' "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" sounds right at home in the set. But the members of the band do study Django's records with a devotion bordering on the fanatic. To demonstrate, rhythm guitarists Jeff Mgidson and Jason Vanderford recreate Reinhardt's recording of "See You In My Dreams" note-for note... and in unison. Heaping spectacle atop spectacle, Mehling switches instruments with bassist Clint Baker mid- tune. After Mehling takes a passable bass solo, Baker sings the lyric in his best Satchmo style, then breaks out a trumpet and brings the tune home, closing out the set to a standing ovation.
Unfortunately, this high point marks the end of my weekend, as unforseen circumstances require my presence elsewhere. For those fortunate enough to remain through the evening, a panoply of musical treats is still to come. An Arena program hosted by humorist Mort Sahl promises to be one for the ages, with an amazing triple bill of Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins and the touring Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars on tap. On the grounds, Kenny Barron will compete for attention with a Hammond B3 organ blowout. And the Monterey Jazz Festival, strong as ever after 50 legendary years, will close its first half-century. Here's hoping the next five decades are equally fruitful.