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“Relaxed” isn’t the word used to describe jazz at the close of the 20th century. Whether you’re a Wynton, Anti-Wynton, M-BASE, free jazz, Swing, post-bop, etc. fan, jazz is/has been about attitude and posturing. Although the rest of the world is oblivious to it, the wars that rage around modern jazz prove to be wearisome. Then along comes an unassuming document like Sylvain Luc and Bireli Lagrene’s Guitar duets. I bet they don’t even call this music jazz. We won’t either, because it would automatically lose numerous listeners sure to enjoy it.
The French born Sylvain Luc has studied guitar, cello, violin and mandolin. His Paris jazz career has taken him through rock-fusion to classical and South American music. Like Luc, Bireli Lagrene was born in France but his Gypsy heritage was inspiration for his Django Reinhardt guitar style. As a child prodigy, he recorded at age 13. Soon he shed Gypsy jazz for rock fusion and after several albums (and tours with Jaco Pastorious) his music seemed to dead end. His rebirth came with a return to his Django’d roots.
Luc and Lagrene’s duets range from pop tunes like Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time,” Lennon/McCartney’s “Blackbird,” to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” They swing a bit with “Stompin’ At The Savoy,” touch on jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery “Road Song,” a waltz “La Ballade Irlandaise,” and a bit of Django “Douce Ambiance.” When all is said and done, they haven’t shaken the world, but this relaxed session was never meant to be anything but comfortable-jazz (maybe not an oxymoron!).
Track List:Time After Time; Douce Ambiance; Estate; Made In France; La Ballad Irlandaise; Isn’t She Lovely; Road Song; Zurezat; Stompin’ At The Savoy; Les Amoureux Des Bancs Pubics; Blackbird; Syracuse; Looking Up.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.