Django Reinhardt is considered on of Europe's greatest jazzmen. His nonpareil improvisations and unorthodox instrumental technique inspired a devoted school of jazz that has come to be known as "gypsy jazz." (Reinhardt was a Roma by birth.) There are 'hot club' ensembles all over the western world, but gypsy jazz has flourished, appropriately enough, on the continent.
Hot Club Norvège, a Scandinavian ensemble led by guitarist extrordinaire John Larsen, is widely regarded as one of the prime exponents of the genre. Parisian Honeymoon Suite is a collection of original compositions ("Guitaresque," "Fatamorgana," "Fido"), standards ("I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Exactly Like You") and Django Reinhardt compositions ("Daphne," "Moppin' The Bride," the timeless "Nuages"). Drawn from the group's albums for the Norwegian label Hot Club, it's also is Hot Club Norvège's first album for Refined Records, a small San Francisco-based label "dedicated to furthering the art of acoustic instrumentation." A noble goal.
Jazz ain't dead, and it ain't playin' possum, and don't believe anyone who tries to tell you it is. John Larsen, Hot Club Norvège's leader, is an accomplished guitarist who excels at playing romantic, medium-tempo ballads. He is joined on Parisian Honeymoon Suite by a host of guitarists and violinists, including Jimmy Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Romane, Babík Reinhardt (Django's son and a respected guitarist and composer in his own right), and Sonnekai, an up-and-coming swing trio steeped in the music of Django Reinhardt. (The three boys that make up Sonnekai are, in fact, Gypsies.)
The music here is first-rate, a welcome antidote to work-related stress (or the perfect accompaniment, along with flowers, a bottle of good merlot and a wedge of sharp cheddar, to a romantic evening). It's also a perfect introduction to a jazz style that doesn't get into the mainstream. Buy this album and start a trend.
1. Guitaresque, 2. Time On My Hands, 3. I Can't Give You Anything But Love, 4. Moppin' The Bride, 5. Nuages, 6. Fatamorgana, 7. Daphne, 8. Exactly Like You, 9. Fantasy, 10. Je Suis Seul Ce Soir, 11. Fido Larsen, 12. Pascal
Svein Aarbostad : Bass, Ivar Brodahl : Violin, Angelo Debarre, Serge Camps & Frank Anastasio : Guitar, Finn Hauge : Harmonica, Jon Larsen : Guitar, Florin Nicolescu : Violin, Babik Reinhardt : Guitar, Romane : Guitar, Jimmy Rosenberg : Guitar, Oyvor Volle : Violin, Ulf Wakenius : Guitar, Sam Weiss : Guitar