Howard Alden

I Remember Django

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One of the greatest jazz guitarists of his generation, Howard Alden has played many different styles during his career. The music of Django Reinhardt was an early inspiration and it became one of the many parts of Alden's extensive repertoire. Alden's approach to Django's music has its own distinct sound; he doesn't attempt to reproduce the instrumentation of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, instead using a single rhythm guitarist (Matt Munisteri) and bassist (Jon Burr, who spent over a decade playing with Stéphane Grappelli at the end of the violinist's long career), with guest appearances by Anat Cohen or Warren Vaché on several tracks. Alden plays two of Reinhardt's compositions, on acoustic guitar in a brilliant setting of "Nuages" as a duet with Cohen on soprano sax, along with a magical solo treatment of the Reinhardt/Grappelli work "Tears." Duke Ellington's "Jubilee Stomp" is an overlooked gem, but Alden and friends bring it to life in a hard-charging arrangement, with Cohen's spirited soprano rivaling Alden for top solo honors. Cohen switches to clarinet to for Alden's intimate arrangement of Barney Kessel's "I Remember Django." Vaché's muted trumpet is added in the samba setting of the standard "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," switching to open horn for a deliberate stroll through "I'm Confessin'." While there have been many tributes to Django Reinhardt since his death in 1953, Howard Alden's I Remember Django is easily among the most memorable efforts.

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