Biréli Lagrène

Gypsy Project

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With Gypsy Project, Bireli Lagrene returns triumphantly to the acoustic, Django Reinhardt-influenced sound that first won him accolades as a teen prodigy in the early '80s. Joined by Holzmano Lagrene and Hono Winterstein on rhythm guitars, Diego Imbert on double bass, and the Romanian virtuoso Florin Niculescu on violin, an older and wiser Lagrene leaps acrobatically through a propulsive set of Reinhardt originals and Reinhardt-associated vehicles. He may sound quite a bit like Django (just as he did at age 13), but he manages to imbue the session with his own brand of flash and interpretive finesse. Highlights include "Belleville," "Swing 42," and a searing guitar/violin duo on "Limehouse Blues," as well as long and short versions of "Daphné," both featuring superb accordion work from Richard Galliano. The takes are short and sweet (generally under three minutes), and the arrangements can be a bit repetitive -- hear one snappy double-time transition and you've heard them all, it could be argued. However, Lagrene and his companions vary the menu with mournful French songs like "Si Tu Savais" and "Vous et Moi," as well as Charles Trenet's ballad "La Mer" (better known to Americans as "Beyond the Sea," made famous by Bobby Darin).

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