Hot Club of 52nd Street

Hot Club Of 52nd Street

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Hot Club of 52nd Street Review

by Ken Dryden

It is hard to imagine two more appropriate guitarists to bring together for a tribute to the great Django Reinhardt than Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden. They're joined by two other veterans, violinist Johnny Frigo and bassist Michael Moore, for this exciting set recorded at the A. C. Pianocraft Recital Hall in New York City, though it has the intimate sound of a recording made in a small nightclub. Although this is obviously a salute to the partnership of Reinhardt with violinist Stephane Grappelli, the approach is fresh due to interaction between the musicians and their frequently humorous solos. Frigo inserts a bit of pizzicato violin as the two guitar masters set the pace with Moore for a rapid fire take of "Tangerine." Reinhardt's "Nuages" has long been a favorite of guitarists, so Alden and Pizzarelli open this standard by themselves before they switch to the chugging rhythm made famous by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. The interplay between Alden and Pizzarelli is incredible in the old chestnut "Avalon." The quartet finishes with a blazing interpretation of "I Got Rhythm." The only caveat about this terrific live session is the audience's insistence on regular enthusiastic applause as one solo gives way to the next, which results in drowning out the music itself. While the musicians likely appreciated the crowd's approval, it's a shame that they couldn't hold themselves in check until the conclusion of each performance.

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