Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

405

Bireli Lagrene Trio: Gypsy Trio

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Bireli Lagrene Trio: Gypsy Trio While his playing reflects diverse influences, guitarist Biréli Lagrène clearly comes out of the gypsy tradition of Django Reinhardt, whose 100th birthday is being celebrated in 2010. Gypsy Trio captures the feeling of Reinhardt's musical era, with some tunes, rhythms, and the atmosphere of a lively Paris nightclub between the two world wars—energetic and fun, but equally contemplative on lovely ballads, including Lagrène's "Sir F.D," and The Beatles' "Something." Lagrène plays with strong feeling, sometimes reminiscent of Charlie Byrd's acoustic stylings, which derives from one of Byrd's foremost influences being, in fact, Reinhardt, whom the American guitarist heard in Paris during his WWII Army enlistment in the 1940s

It is difficult to recapture the music of le jazz hot without making it cliché, but Lagrène manages to inject enough modern complexity into his playing to avoid musty historicism. Indeed, his virtuosity and mastery of contemporary idioms enhances the heat, and is seamlessly integrated with the rhythms and inflections of the early swing era, as well as Reinhardt's tart sound, vibrato, and on-the-beat emphasis.

Jazz today sometimes tends to be overly cool, intellectual, and intense, perhaps a reflection of the times, as well as the straining effort to stretch the limits of trends that were well-established in the second half of the twentieth century. By contrast, this album, while musically astute, is fun and enjoyable. In "Singin' in the Rain," Lagrène briefly sings and whistles the melody in street-wise fashion, while in "Be My Love," he gives a shot at topping Mario Lanza's famed operatic crescendos—which, depending on how it's perceived (parody, ruination, or awesome homage), may engender laughter, tears, or amazement. Still, there is no doubt that this album has a charm and lightness of being that is sorely missing from today's le jazz froid.

Guitarist Hono Winterstein and bassist Diego Imbert provide a steady rhythmic backing, with Winterstein's rhythm guitar coming off surprisingly well, in support of Lagerene's solos. Another successful use of such a combination can be heard on Polarity (Concord, 2000), where guitarist Joe Beck's self-constructed alto guitar backs Jimmy Bruno's flashy improvisations. Guitar "duels" are not that uncommon, but both these albums suggest that there are other ways of employing two guitars, either by themselves or within a small combo.

Cross-cultural exchanges—such as Lagrène's collaboration with American guitarist Vic Juris in Europe, a few years ago—are helping recharge contemporary jazz. Lagrène, who does most of his work in Europe, came to the U.S. in 2008, performing in New York and the northeast. Produced in France, Gypsy Trio suggests that his unique stylings would be welcomed back—and much appreciated—Stateside.


Track Listing: Lullaby of Birdland; New York City; Le Soir; Limehouse Blues; Poinciana; Schon Roesmarin/Night and Day; Sir F.D.; Something; Made in France; Singin' in the Rain; Tiger Rag; Change Partners; Micro; Be My Love.

Personnel: Bireli Lagrene:guitar; Hono Winterstein:guitar; Diego Imbert: double-bass.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Dreyfus Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Umbrella Weather CD/LP/Track Review Umbrella Weather
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 24, 2017
Read Born In An Urban Ruin CD/LP/Track Review Born In An Urban Ruin
by John Sharpe
Published: January 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs) CD/LP/Track Review Sanguinaria (Hopeful Songs)
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 24, 2017
Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Crowded Solitudes" CD/LP/Track Review Crowded Solitudes
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 6, 2016
Read "River Silver" CD/LP/Track Review River Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 23, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "What Doesn’t Kill You" CD/LP/Track Review What Doesn’t Kill You
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "The Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review The Outlier
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 16, 2016
Read "Some Other Time" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!