Jazz CD Reviews
Hot Club of Detroit – Night Town – Mack Avenue Records
Published on July 3, 2008
Hot Club of Detroit – Night Town – Mack Avenue Records MAC 1041 **** [Release date: July 15, 08]:
(Evan Perri – leader & lead guitar; Paul Brady – steel & nylon string rhythm guitar; Julien Labro – accordion, accordina; Shannon Wade – doublebass; Carl Cafagna – tenor & soprano sax)
The Gypsy Jazz revival continues to blossom around the world. What’s made it more interesting than some revivals – such as the original English trad jazz – is that people are coming to it from a bunch of very diverse cultural and musical backgrounds and bringing with them elements that are keeping the Django Reinhardt jazz style fresh and exciting. One of the groups that has done much in this area comes from a town long recognized as one of the jazz centers of North America – Detroit – and this is their latest CD.
To the foundation of the two guitars and string bass the Hot Club of Detroit has added accordion and saxophone. Django’s group sometimes included accordion, and Richard Galliano and Julien Labro have been continuing that tradition in gypsy jazz with fine results. Clarinetist Hubert Roistwang was an occasional member of Django’s band, but in spite of it being a French instrument, the saxophone never became a member of the gypsy jazz ensemble. The warm sound of Carl Cafagna’s sax fits very well with the guitars. He was inspired to do I Want to Be Happy after hearing a recording of it by Stan Getz with the Oscar Peterson Trio.
Back in Django’s time many jazz players adapted classical themes to the swing style, and it’s still a more popular thing in Europe than in North America. One of Django’s most interesting sides in this regard is his treatment of a Bach theme. The Hot Club of Detroit presents their arrangement of Ravel’s violin-piano showpiece Tzigane, and since that means Gypsy, they ramp up the gypsy juice all the way.
The tech specs in making this album were very high. Various vintage mikes were used, the A-D converter ran at 88.2kHz/24-bit and no digital effects were used in mixing. However, we can’t really hear much of those good efforts because this is a standard 44.1K CD, not a hybrid SACD as Mack Avenue formerly offered. They are one of several jazz labels who issued some terrific hybrid SACDs but have since given up on the format. Why, when simpler and more economical methods of SACD production have been developed which can make even the stereo CD layer sound better than 88.2K can achieve?
1. I Want to Be Happy
3. Valse a Rosenthal
4. Seven Steps to Heaven
7. Sweet Substitute
8. Blues Up and Down
9. Pour Parler
10. Melodie au Crepuscule
11. Two Weeks
13. Django’s Monkey
14. Night Town
– John Henry