Monday, June 7, 2010

Stephane Wrembel's take on tradition

As a genre, gypsy jazz is unusual. Not many other genres are dominated by one musician, in the way that Django Reinhardt defined the sound of gypsy jazz. Lead guitarists even frequently play Django's improvised solos, note for note.

Stephane Wrembel's guitar playing at the Flynn Space tonight certainly acknowledged Django's dominating presence in the genre, including reciting a couple of Django's solos. But he didn't stop there. Before the group even appeared on stage, the drum set in the corner hinted at some departures from the traditional stringed rhythm section. Nick Anderson's drumming with sticks, brushes and hands added an array of interesting textures, and rhythmic interplay with Wrembel. The material diverged in many directions - unusual time signatures, and rhythmic and harmonic ideas far beyond the traditional borders of gypsy jazz.

It certainly seemed like an appropriate 100th birthday tribute to an innovative musician.

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