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 when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.