Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Some music just needs to be seen in a small space. For instance, even though Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was acoustically perfect for Hot Club of San Francisco, both the band and the music seemed “too small for the room” during their appearance last year. In comparison, Hot Club of Detroit’s show at the Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge last Friday night (February 1) was not just perfectly wonderful – it was also perfectly scaled. Maybe the Van Dyck’s concert space is a loft instead of a basement, and it may also be a non-smoking environment, but a band and its sound has never seemed more at home.
Obviously, Hot Club SF and Hot Club Detroit are devotees of the legendary Quintette du Hot Club de France, and both groups make jazz icon Django Reinhardt’s no-drums-required acoustic matrix live and breathe. But where the Bay Area band is hamstrung by guitarist/founder Paul Mehling’s “too cool for my two-tone wingtips” attitude, the quartet from the Motor City focuses on making the music and making it right. That’s not to say HCD leader Evan Perri isn’t up for fun: Before their set-closer “Goodbye Mr. Anderson,” he gave away the last copy of their new disc Junction by holding an impromptu “Django Reinhardt Trivia” contest. But from the first notes of the driving opener “J’attendrai” to the last chord of the beautiful encore “Si Tu Savais,” it was all about bringing Django’s sound into the 21st century.