In Schenectady, A Place For Jazz’s annual concert series came to a blistering close this month with the Hot Club Of Detroit performing their own sizzling variation on the Gypsy jazz of the famed Quintette du Hot Club de France of the 1930s.
No slavish revivalists, the Hot Club Of Detroit’s line-up takes a left-hand turn from that of its legendary predecessor with accordionist Julien Labro taking over the role of the great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.
Labro is no stranger to Nippertown, having shared the stage with guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola’s Quintet (which also derives its inspiration from the original Hot Club Quintet) for concerts at The Egg and Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College during the past year.
The key factor in any Gypsy jazz combo, however, is the guitarist, and, let’s face it, Django Reinhardt left some pretty big shoes to fill. Fortunately, acoustic guitarist Evan Perri was up to the task.
Rounding out the outfit was rhythm guitarist Paul Brady, acoustic bassist Andrew Kratzat and woodwind player Carl Cafagna, who shifted from saxophone to clarinet to flute. Together, the quintet served up a tasty smorgasbord of selections from Reinhardt’s classic acoustic swing songbook, including breakneck-tempo takes on “Noto Swing” and “Minor Swing,” which closed out the band’s two sets, respectively.
But HCD certainly didn’t limit its repertoire to the traditional Gypsy jazz standards. They also offering refreshing interpretations of Miles Davis’ “Seven Steps to Heaven,” Charles Mingus’ “Nostalgia in Times Square” and even Chopin’s “Tristesse E Major Etude.” Simply put, they stretched out, but always swung hard for two sets, igniting waves of applause from the full house of admirers gathered in the First Unitarian Society’s welcoming Whisperdome.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarcazyk
Rudy Lu’s photographs at AlbanyJazz.com
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The band’s ensemble playing snapped, crackled and popped, everybody playing aggressively behind the solos and negotiating intricate, tricky beats, unison and harmony passages with aplomb that seemed effortless. Kratzat and Brady quietly shone in the thankless chore of providing rhythm in a drummer-less band and harmonic echoes, respectively. The guitars used amps only for volume, not sustain, producing a pointillism that required and rewarded precision.”