John Jorgenson

Franco-American Swing

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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden

John Jorgenson is one of those musical chameleons who amazes audiences (and likely fellow players) with his diverse talents and recordings in many wide-ranging styles. Jorgenson was recruited to play guitarist Django Reinhardt in the film Head in the Clouds and record a few tunes for the soundtrack. So the emphasis of this date is music inspired by the famous Quintet of the Hot Club of France. But rather than a collection of remakes of their famous recordings, Jorgenson wrote a number of brilliant originals that one could easily imagine Reinhardt and his partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli, wowing audiences with in the 1930s. Jorgenson's technical wizardry comes in handy throughout the session, especially in the swinging opener, "F.A. Swing." In additional to his phenomenal lead guitar line, he plays rhythm guitar, multiple clarinets, and tenor sax to boot, adding hot clarinet and tenor sax solos as well, while an alternate mix omits the tenor sax and adds Jeff Taylor on accordion. "Mirror in Blue" is a remake of his earlier recording, adding the Nashville Chamber Orchestra Quartet to this melancholy tune. Particularly amusing is his brisk gypsy setting of the Shadows' "Man of Mystery." "In Memory of Danny Gatton" honors another talented guitarist (and good friend) who killed himself not long after the release of an all-star jazz CD for Blue Note. This gypsy theme has a melancholy air to it, with droning rhythm guitar and the funeral-like cadence of the drummer's brushes, though Jorgenson's mournful clarinet steals the spotlight from his marvelous guitar. "Waltz for Mary" opens with an intricate unison line between Jorgenson and Taylor before the piece transforms into a jaunty swinging waltz. "Cher Jacqueline," another Jorgenson original, is simply a gorgeous ballad. The final track directly rekindles the magic of the Reinhardt-Grappelli partnership, with violinist Stephane Allard matching the leader's hot licks with his own powerful solo. Django lives in the music of John Jorgenson!

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