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Something different and exciting is brewing on lePercolateur's Pop Manouche. This Chicago-based, Hot Club-indebted outfit finds a way to blend the sonic sensibilities of Django Reinhardt's famed band into an alt- pop/alt-folk/alt-instrumental format on their debut album, creating something unique in the process; it's as if songstress Sam Phillips, the beyond-category Pink Martini, indie folk band Hem, Reinhardt, and a few other unlikely collaborators got together to make some music.
The core instrumentationviolin, multiple guitars and bassimmediately points to the gypsy in lePercolateur's soul. Some energetic tunes with upbeat guitar accents and feisty violin work confirm this connection and fly by in fun fashion ("Bad Crazy Day"), but nothing flies too close to the gypsy jazz norm; the songs themselves and the presence of vocalist Candace Washburn, who injects a good amount of the "pop" into Pop Manouche, make sure of that. Middle Eastern-leaning music with a surfer undercurrent ("Two Weeks"), shuffling country-blues-pop hybrids ("Darling"), haunting instrumental meditations ("Oscura") and a whole lot more surface during this eleven song program.
While lePercolateur itself is a five person band, several guests stop by to beef-up the line-up and add some different flavors to the music. Three horn playerstrumpeter Corey Wilkes, tenor saxophonist Shawn Maxwell and trombonist Adam Thornburgtangle during a harmonious polyphonic solo spree on "Nothing Special," Bryan Pardo's clarinet sets the scene for "Two Weeks," which also benefits from some basic tambourine backing from Stephen Lynerd, and a third guitaristGabriel Datcudrops in for a couple numbers; all parties help lePercolateur expand its aural outlook.
Pop Manouche presents a band that drinks from the Quintette du Hot Club de France's well, yet finds sustenance in other musical realms. This stylistic openness contributes to the success of the hybridized music that lePercolateur produces.
Track Listing: Bad Crazy Day; Nothing Special; Dancing In The Kitchen; All I Want Is You; Two
Weeks; Goin' Out; Waiting For The End Of The World; Open Up The Door; Darling;
Personnel: Marielle de Rocca-Serra: violin; Stacy McMichael: bass; Sam Random: guitar; Kevin
Rush: guitar; Candace Washburn: vocals; Corey Wilkes: trumpet (2); Shawn Maxwell:
tenor saxophone (2); Adam Thornburg: trombone (2); Bryan Pardo: clarionet (5);
Stephen Lynerd: tambourine; Gabriel Datcu: guitar (5, 10).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.