RENDEZVOUS IN RHYTHM
Hot Club Of Cowtown
Gold Strike Records
The name of the band pretty much sums up the kind of fusion you can expect in this appealingly lively album. This band from Austin, Texas, is inspired by traditional bluegrass fiddling and hot jazz swing.
Like the Preservation Jazz Hall Band's unexpectedly simpatico recording with the bluegrass Del McCoury Band reviewed in this column last year, Rendezvous In Rhythm finds common ground between the different genres.
In this case, fiddler Elana James' playing straddles easily the featherlight swing of great jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and the looser limbed folk inflections of bluegrass. Just listen to the stirring string lament that opens the first track, the Russian folk tune-turned-jazz favourite, Dark Eyes (Ochi Chornye). Guitarist Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin move equally adeptly on this track.
It perfectly whets the appetite for what is to come - 13 tracks of the most popular standards of the 1930s hot swing era in Paris. There are some charming takes on quaint rarities. Avalon and The Continental are two of my favourites, delivered in Smith's light tenor in a stripped-down, no-frills style reminiscent of the radio crooners of the era.
The tight rhythms and melodies are pure pleasure, there are no duds in the whole line-up. This is souffle light, happy music perfect for chasing away the blues.
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