Didier Verna: Roots and Leaves

Roger Farbey By

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Don't judge a book a book by its cover or a recording by its first track. "Old Times" is certainly that, a paean to the swinging age of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and guitarist Didier Verna displays his considerable talent with a nimble solo, as do each of the other members of the quartet.

In the true tradition of Mony Python, "Circulocentrique" is something completely different. This is a tasteful funky blues workout, again with some gripping guitar. The elegant ballad "Coconette" has an engaging melody and shows that—as with all the selections on this disc—Verna is clearly capable of composing solid, memorable tunes.

"Hints, Tips, Tricks 'n Cheats" starts with collective improvisation but settles into something more organised and fast moving, with Verna displaying considerable skill on fretless guitar. "Vert de Blues" is a straight ahead rapid-fire track as is the subsequent track "Monday Morning" replete with a jaunty melody.

Proceedings slow down for the more reflective "Petite Mort," Yoni Zelnik contributing a fine bass solo and this pace paradoxically allows Verna's solo to make more impact. "Mister Crusoe" is an outing for Verna's guitar synthesizer with interesting results because he's not afraid to employ it in a more conventional way as opposed to attempting to extract the most unconventional sounds from the instrument, as seems to be the fashion with this instrument.

"Minor Nuisance" harks back to the swinging sound of "Old Times" and indeed its near-titled progenitor "Minor Swing," the standard by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. "Maroc" is a breezy composition in a moderate tempo and again Verna is heard soloing on guitar synthesizer.

As it says on the tin, "YYAB" is indeed yet another blues (but why the extra "Y"?) and gives both Verna and Laurent Epstein the opportunity for some satisfying solos. The final, bonus track, a reprise of "Coconette," reveals Verna in a totally new light, here playing unaccompanied acoustic guitar. A decidedly excellent, albeit short, track.

Track Listing: Old Times; Circulocentrique; Coconette; Hints, Tips, Tricks ’n Cheats; Vert de Blues; Monday Morning; Petite Mort; Mister Crusoe; Minor Nuisance; Maroc; YYAB.

Personnel: Didier Verna: guitar; Laurent Epstein: piano; Yoni Zelnik: bass; David Georgelet: drums.

Title: Roots And Leaves | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced


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