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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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HOWARD ALDEN

I Remember Django

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19401

 

 


1. Who Cares?
2. Up Jumped You With Love
3. I Remember Django
4. Jubilee Stomp
5. Insensiblement
6. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
7. Nuages
8. Bernardo
9. For Django
10. Nagasaki
11. I'm Confessin' That I Love You
12. I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles/I'll See You in My Dreams
13. Tears

Howard Alden, Matt Munisteri - Guitars
Jon Burr - Bass
Warren Vach‚ - Cornet (tracks 1, 5, 6, 11)
Anat Cohen - Clarinet, soprano sax (tracks 2-4, 7-9)

 

The album title made me fear that this might be yet another of those numerous "gypsy jazz" recordings trying to reproduce the sound and style of Django Reinhardt and his colleagues in the Hot Club of France. Thankfully, this CD has little of those deadeningly chugging guitars. In fact the playing is light and delicate. Admittedly Matt Munisteri plays acoustic guitar, but with subtlety and finesse.

Howard Alden is well placed to pay tribute to Django, as he coached Sean Penn for the role of a Django-type guitarist in Woody Allen's 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown. Alden also soloed on the soundtrack. Howard can actually play in almost any jazz style but all the songs he chose for this album are associated in some way for him with Reinhardt. Of course, we can't escape the inevitable Nuages, on which Anat Cohen plays soprano sax (which is not listed on the sleeve). The tune escapes sounding hackneyed by giving the melody to the saxophone.

The presence of reedman Cohen and cornettist Warren Vach‚ adds variety to the album, although Warren commits a few disquieting fluffs. Yet Vach‚ shows on tracks like Insensiblement that he can play with lyrical charm. So can Anat Cohen, as you can hear on the title-track, which was composed by guitarist Barney Kessel - whose widow wrote the sleeve-notes. Kessel also wrote the boppish Bernardo, on which bassist Jon Burr plays a melodic solo and blends well with Alden's guitar. Nagasaki is a virtuoso solo performance by Howard Alden, supplying his own accompaniment. Alden's medley of I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles and I'll See You in My Dreams was featured in the film Sweet and Lowdown. This superb album closes appropriately with Howard playing alone in Tears, a composition by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Howard even slips in a cheeky allusion to Nuages towards the end.

Tony Augarde



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