Saturday, May 14, 2016

Past And Present

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester writes a review of some recordings recently added to his collection reflecting the influence of Django Reinhardt - past and present.

An Old Django Recording From His Musette Years 

Last March I spent a weekend in Belgium to visit the beautiful town of Antwerp and to meet a very good  Django friend. Together we went to a huge cd & book department in the branch of the French “Fnac” company, with headquarters in Paris. Looking around I happened to find a Double CD dedicated to the Parisian Musette with many interesting tracks of different artists from the past.
CD box: Accordion Paris Musette, CD RETRO 2007-  2x 618
To my surprise one of the CDs included a track of the former accordionist Vetese Guérino, accompanied by guitarist Django Reinhardt.
The legendary accordionist Vetese Guérino
Accordionst Guérino was a popular artist in Paris in the Twenties and Thirties and his orchestra was called La boîte à matelots (sailors’box). Both Django Reinhardt and Baro Ferret joined this band (and often Gusti Malha) of which some recordings were made.
La boîte à matelots
The featured title on this CD is Gallito - a paso double – which was recorded in 1933 with Django now on guitar, so some years after the fire accident. Guérino already asked Django in his band around 1925 because of his special banjo technique which was far different than all other players. I could add to this that, in the early Thirties, Django usually travelled to Toulon in summertime and also there performed with Guérino in 1931. A nice experience to find such a recording which brings back memories of the heydays of the Musette. - You have the opportunity to listen to Gallito in the YouTube audio-video below as the first track from the uploaded disc 2 of the box-set mentioned above.

Great Guitar Playing,  For ‘Gypsy Swing’ Fans And Others 

For more than 50 years I am fascinated by the music of Django Reinhardt and I have seen and heard lots of artists playing in the style which he created. Most of what they recorded forms part of my collection and here is another item that certainly can be added.
Stunt Records, CD STUCD 15162
The Schmitt family from the Alsace is well-known, because several of its members got worldwide reputation as guitar virtuosos, in particular the brothers Tchavelo and Dorado. The latter’s son, Amati - who is also playing in the Django tradition – now joins his father’s quintet and together they travel throughout Europe in order to give concerts. One of their concerts took place in Denmark, in the city of Fredericia where they joined the Winter Festival in 2014. And….then something particular occurred.
Dorado & Amati Schmitt Group
After their concert, when the audience had left, a series of recordings were made for the Stunt Records label. A great initiative. The result is the CD Sinti du Monde which includes 11 titles and here is my first impression.

Right from the start, backed by an easy swinging rhythm group, Dorado plays the lovely  melody of Rose Room like Django did in the Thirties (though the sound of the guitar is a bit different). His solo is inventive and includes fast runs, but it is never too far off the theme. And so he continues the other  ten tracks, always showing control over his instrument, improvising whatever the rhythm is. In his composition For Francko, Dorado adds some vocals and the Ballade Romanez (another own piece) is impressive  with a solo of great beauty. Next to a few nice bossa themes Dorado also can be heard on violin in the Waltz for Esben - a homage to the Danish producer of the CD. Again it shows that he masters this instrument while bringing beautiful improvisations.

Dorado & Amati Schmitt (photo courtesy Stunt Records)
It is not my intention to describe all tracks. Django fans should discover that themselves. Tracklist include these titles: Rose room, Stompin’at the Savoy, For Francko, Ballade Romanez, Gloria forever, Waltz for Esben, After you’ve gone, Je suis seul ce-soir, How high the moon, Hayo Cue Cae, My blue heaven. - More info at the website of Stunt Records, here. Official website of Dorado Schmitt, here 

To end this review, I found a couple of YouTube videos featuring Dorado and Amati Schmitt Quintette recorded live in Denmark earlier this year - enjoy!

Georg Lankester,

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