The program was a mix of soulful romance and gleeful flamboyance, plaintive sadness and rollicking celebration, with Jorgenson's fingers a blur that created avalanches of notes and chords. His dazzling prowess often caused listeners to gasp at the speed and sound. His three- and four-note voicings, blazing arpeggios and syncopated upward strokes richly reflected Reinhardt's unique playing style.
Jorgenson also conquered the complexity of a Greek bouzouki's three pairs of strings on "One Stolen Night," from his 2010 Pharoah Records album of the same name. He played clarinet on the Klezmer-ish "Souvenirs des Nos Peres" and employed solo guitar for an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. He sang a few songs, too, but none of this seemed as if he was showing offjust loving the music he was performing.
The ensemble was a tight team, with violinist Jason Anick and acoustic bassist Simon Planting in dominant roles to enhance Jorgenson's amplified acoustic guitar. Although it was surprising to see a percussionist with what is usually an all-string ensemble, Rick Reed provided a solid foundation with selective restraint, playing only brushes on a snare and two cymbals. Even more surprising, the requisite gypsy jazz rhythm guitarist was absent; instead, pianist John Jarvisa longtime session musician for rock and country albums delivered fiery solos and inventive chord changes to accent and enhance the string maneuvers.
Among the many peaks of the evening was a guitar-violin duet, Jorgenson striking left- hand tonics on the fret bar against his right-hand picking for "Smoldering Ashes," from Franco-American Swing (JJ Records, 2004). Another audience pleaser was "Ghost Dance," an impossibly fast, ear-boggling original that went viral on YouTube last year:
The classic World War II Reinhardt instrumental, "Nuages," was delivered with warm sensitivity for the perfect closing selection.
Jorgenson is a master of the flat-picking style of jazz manouche still being played in 21st Century Paris. In 2004, he was even chosen to portray Reinhardt in the feature film Head in the Clouds, starring Charlize Theron.
He formed his gypsy jazz combo in 2004 and recorded Franco-American Swing (Pharaoh Records, 2004), Ultraspontane (Pharaoh Records/J2 Records, 2007), One Stolen Night and Istiqbal Gathering (Pharaoh Records/J2 Records, 2010). But his first release in that genre dates back to 1988 with the LP After You've Gone (Curb Records).
Renowned for decades in the pop, country, and rock world, Jorgenson is a three-time winner of the Academy of Country Music award for Guitarist of the Year. Jorgenson fits the epithet of "guitar virtuoso," having toured for six years with Elton John and, in between, recorded with Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Roy Oribson, Barbra Streisand...and even Luciano Pavorotti.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.