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Jimmy Rosenberg & Friends: The Django Reinhardt NY Festival: Live at Birdland

Mike Neely By

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Jimmy Rosenberg & Friends: The Django Reinhardt NY Festival: Live at Birdland Django Reinhardt NY Festival: Live at Birdland features Jimmy Rosenberg, a young gypsy guitarist from the Netherlands. It is fitting that he would be featured in a Reinhardt Festival for he is a virtuoso of the Reinhardt style and ably carries on the spirit of his mentor. At times, Rosenberg flaunts high speed, breathtaking runs, touched by the modern jazz styles he has successfully absorbed. It is especially interesting to listen to Rosenberg and violinist Regina Carter play with the obvious ghosts of Reinhardt and Grappelli hovering.

Rosenberg is accompanied by an excellent supporting cast including Jon Burr on bass, and Frank Vignola on second guitar. This core trio is joined on various tracks by Regina Carter, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Ascione, Bieri Lagrene, Florin Niculescu, and Leroy Williams. Django Reinhardt’s son, Babik Reinhardt, appears on two tracks, playing lead electric guitar on one of his own compositions.

This is a lively session. Rosenberg’s upbeat, outgoing virtuosity has a contagious quality to its energy. Youth in blaze, and the band is up for the challenge. An outrageously extroverted "Sheik of Araby" opens the recording with the acoustic sound of Rosenberg cruising above Jon Burr’s low-key bass. Vignola kicks in as the rhythm/second guitarist, and the energy spirals upward. If there’s any question whether this young gypsy can play it’s dispelled in the first two minutes of the recording. Regina Carter joins the trio on the second track challenging Rosenberg with an impressive Grappelli-like opening solo, Rosenberg follows with a mostly single note line solo with some fast paced chording toward the close. Drummer Joe Ascione adds some fine solo touches on brushes.

There are many highlights to this wonderful recording including French guitarist Bireli Lagrene’s performance on "Swing 49." Lagrene’s rapport with Burr and Vignola is extraordinary. Guitarist Vignola shines throughout this track as an accompanist and dual soloist. Another highlight is Rosenberg’s slow, soulful solo on "With You it Was So Very Beautiful." Regina Carter’s vigorous and lyrical solo work on "It Don’t Mean A Thing" brings home just how good a violinist she has become. Florin Niculescu’s solo violin work on "Nuages," rising above a multi-guitar texture, is simply beautiful. Then Rosenberg pulls out all the stops on "Turkish Mambo" throwing out an ultra fast-paced challenge to the masters of be-bop and fusion.

There’s a new talent in town, and his name is Jimmy Rosenberg. He’s put together an excellent trio, and has the taste and talent to surround himself with a group of extraordinary musicians. There’s a joyous quality to this music, in addition to rousing solos and intricate multi-guitar exchanges. Live at Birdland is truly a "live" recording in the best sense of the word. If you like Django Reinhardt and gypsy jazz guitar, then this is a disc not to miss.


Track Listing: Sheik of Araby; I Can

Personnel: Jimmy Rosenberg, guitar; Frank Vignola, 2nd guitar; and Jon Burr, bass. Joined on various tracks by Regina Carter, Joe Ascione,Bireli Lagrene, Bucky Pizzarelli, Babik Reinhardt, Florin Niculescu, Pete Malinverni, and Leroy Williams.

Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Division One/Atlantic | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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