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Bireli Lagrene & Friends: Live Jazz

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Birele Lagrene
Live Jazz Á Vienne
Dreyfus Records
2005

The little boy on stage is barely big enough to hold the guitar in his lap, but he plays with startling skill. Just beginning to develop a technique, his innocence is brilliant. He smiles humbly at the audience at Montreux.

Filmed 24 years ago, the scene from Bireli Lagrene & Friends: Live Jazz Á Vienne contrasts beautifully with the 2002 concert, which comprises the first part of the DVD. 13 songs performed by The Gipsy Project, a group Lagrene formed less than five years ago with violinist Florin Niculescu, bassist Diego Imbert and additional guitarists Hono Winterstein and Thomas Dutronc, recall bygone times when Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli entranced the Hot Club of France with songs like "Coquette , "Sweet Georgia Brown , "Belleville and "Djangology .

The dialogue between Lagrene and Niculescu fizzes with lyricism. They tease each other while trading lines and egg each other on. The violinist plays with such impassioned desperation that one gets the feeling that if forced to be without his instrument his will to live would expire.

A dazzling array of special guests joins the Gipsy Project for the second half of the concert. Violinist Martin Weiss' glamorous tone resonates with luster in "My One And Only Love . Accordionist Richard Galliano sits in for "Tears and "Waltz For Nicky . And the other 16 tunes feature a variety of guitarists including Silvain Luc, Angelo Debarre and Stochelo Rosenberg.

Fantastic bonus footage rounds out the four hour DVD. Backstage jam sessions, exclusive interviews and personal moments with Lagrene titillate. For the interview scenes, subtitles may have been more effective than the translator's English dubbed over the French. And identification of the different speakers would have added to the context. But despite these production woes, no amount of translation or explanation can beat the allure of scenes in the studio where everyone's cracking each other up and smoking like crazy.

Track Listing: Coquette; Blues Clair; Embraceable You; Troublant Bolero; What Is This Thing Called Love; When Day Is Done; Djangology; Si Tu Savais; Festival 48; Flobi; Sweet Georgia Brown; Viper's Dream; Belleville; My One And Only Love; Dinah; I'll See You In My Dreams; Made In France; Nuages; Tears; Waltz For Nicky; J'Attendrai; Them There Eyes; There Will Never Be Another You; Les Yeux Noirs; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Vienne Song; I've Found A New Baby; Night And Day; Swing Gitan; Daphne; Donna Lee; Minor Swing;

Personnel: Florin Niculescu - violin; Hono Winterstein - guitar; Thomas Dutronc - guitar; Diego Imbert - bass; Martin Weiss - violin; Dorado Schmitt - guitar; Sylvain Luc - guitar; David Reinhardt - guitar; Stochelo Rosenberg - guitar; Tchavolo Schmitt - guitar; Angelo Debarre - guitar; Serge Krief - guitar; Richard Chiche - guitar; Richard Galliano - accordion

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