Martin Taylor was exposed to the music of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli as a youngster, never realizing that he would end up touring and recording with the great violinist for 11 years. The guitarist formed his Spirit of Django band in 1994, which Grappelli inadvertently named by commenting that "You've captured the spirit of Django, but in your own style." The violinist's words proved prophetic, particularly with this 2010 release, in which Taylor plays both acoustic and electric guitar, with longtime members including accordion player Jack Embrow, rhythm guitarist John Goldie, bassist Terry Gregory, and drummer James Taylor, with the addition of clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Alan Barnes and vocalist Alison Burns. While Taylor's 11 compositions capture the flavor of the Gypsy jazz of Reinhardt and Grappelli, it is in an updated way, with a lighter air and more contemporary feeling. The guitarist's ballads prove immediately infectious, including the easygoing waltz "Le Jardin Anglais" and the laid-back ballad "Le Javanaise." Burns' wordless vocals are a nice touch, especially in the playful, breezy "Last Train to Hauteville" and the bossa nova "Mirette." One of the most fun tracks is the quirky "Monsieur Jacques," a hilarious instrumental impression of a French neighbor's attempts to ride a unicycle without crashing. Last Train to Hauteville is a welcome addition to Martin Taylor's vast discography.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden