The Denver Gentlemen


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A strangely compelling and wholly original melding of Eastern European folk, traditional gospel, country, and baroque jazz, Introducing... was the long-overdue debut from Denver, CO, legends the Denver Gentlemen. The CD was actually recorded five years prior to its release, and the band was already long deceased by the time Absalom Records uncovered the tracks and issued them in 2001. Obviously worth the wait, Jeffrey-Paul's otherworldly warble, displaying an unnaturally wide vibrato, may take some getting used to, but is ultimately the perfect vehicle for the pervasive strangeness of the album's carnival sounds and religious imagery. Alternately swinging and stomping, the loose-limbed clattering of accordion, piano, drums, and brass make for a sound completely without modern parallel. While tracks such as "When the Lord, He Speak to Me" could possibly find precedents in Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits, a sample of "Mid-Day-Merry-Go-Round," with its "Hit the Road Jack" intro and surprise choruses of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," reveals a band that is gloriously free of inhibition. Tracks with frantically changing time signatures are balanced by stark Nick Cave-ish ballads, with every track seemingly informed by a distinctively American folk lyrical tradition. Unflinchingly odd, but nearly perfect in its execution, Introducing... makes one hope that it won't be both the introduction and farewell of the Denver Gentlemen.

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