Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
187

Evan Christopher's Django a la Creole: Finesse

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count Views
Evan Christopher's Django a la Creole: Finesse The epithet "flawless technique" does not even begin to describe Evan Christopher's manner of playing, perhaps, the most challenging reed instrument: the clarinet. His polished intonation is marked by the perfect annunciation of the notes that gush forth from his clarinet sometimes at great speed. His rhythmic attack is so full of surprise, especially when he injects elements of Brazilian and other Latin American colorings into the long, loping lines he plays. He has a spiritual connection with Django Reinhardt and the Romani tradition of Europe, and it is as deep and enduring as the one he shares with George Lewis, Barney Bigard, and the magicians in the New Orleans Creole tradition. This is beautifully brought out in the swaggering glissandos and with tremulous wonder in the stately version of "Mood Indigo" that he and the quartet play on the memorable Finesse, a joint release by lejazzetal and Fremeaux & Associates, in France.

It is Christopher's reverent sense of history that enables him to revisit the work of New Orleans' great legendary son, Sidney Bechet. The album opens and closes with the great clarinetist's "Tropical Moon" and "Passaporte ao Paraìso." His rendition of Bix Beiderbecke's bustling masterpiece, "Riverboat Shuffle," is a snorter. His own "Django à la Créole," which is based on Django's solos on "Improvisation No. 3 (Parts 1 and 2)," melded into Latin pieces played by that other master of the New Orleans idiom, Jelly Roll Morton. This remains the centerpiece of this second memorable album that brings Gypsy music together with jazz from that charmed era, cooked in the place of its birth, New Orleans.

Throughout this magnificent album, Christopher's control over melodic content is matched by his inspired use of harmonic ingenuity. On songs such as "Finesse," "Féerie Eyes" and "Mood Indigo," it sometimes feels as if Christopher has a hidden reed in his clarinet, which enables him to create a harmonic force that adds density to the colors he is able to paint, from a palette already rich in hues from the luscious tones that he is able to draw out of his beautiful woodwind instrument. Christopher's genius emerges further as he fuses together musical idioms from the Caribbean, Brazil and Cuba into the Creole world of New Orleans with rare finesse and charm; more than that, it's the clarinetist's ability to create all this in an environment that is at once reverential as well as completely new and timeless, so that it appears wholly new.

Christopher's mission is enhanced by the accompaniment on his journey from three other musicians equally passionate about the roots of swing: guitarists Dave Kelbie, who has almost single-handedly kept the flame of Gypsy music burning brightly—not only in Europe, but also in the rest of the world—and the talented David Blenkhorn, who plays his Django-like role to perfection throughout; and the remarkable bassist Sébastien Giradot, who contributes more than solid rhythmic accompaniment, brilliantly showcased on the spectacular title tune of this album of rare beauty.


Track Listing: Tropical Moon; Finesse; Riverboat Shuffle; Django à la Créole; Solid Old Man; Songe d'Autome; Jubilee; Créole Eyes; Féerie Eyes; Mood Indigo; Passaporte ao Paraìso.

Personnel: Evan Christopher: clarinet; David Blenkhorn: solo guitar; Dave Kelbie: rhythm guitar; Sébastien Giradot.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Lejazzetal Records | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Finesse
Finesse
Lejazzetal Records
2010
buy
The Remembering Song
The Remembering Song
Arbors Records
2010
buy
Django a la Creole
Django a la Creole
Lejazzetal Records
2008
buy
Delta Bound
Delta Bound
Arbors Records
2007
buy
The Sidney Bechet Society Jam Session Concert
The Sidney Bechet...

2002
buy
Art Tatum Art Tatum
piano
Charlie Barnet Charlie Barnet
composer/conductor
Art Lillard Art Lillard
drums
Junior Mance Junior Mance
piano
Juan Tizol Juan Tizol
trombone
Mark O'Connor Mark O'Connor
saxophone
Luis Russell
composer/conductor
Quinn Lemley Quinn Lemley
vocalist

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.