Biréli Lagrène

Live in Paris

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Bireli Lagrene was fascinated by the guitar at a very young age and taught himself by listening to records repeatedly and experimenting on the instrument. Influenced heavily by the work of Django Reinhardt, Lagrene is featured leading a quartet at New Morning in Paris on this DVD. The Django flavor of Gypsy swing is prominent throughout most of the date, as he plays a number of tunes recorded by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, but Lagrene also successfully applies this style to bop tunes such as "Donna Lee" and "Move." He switches to electric guitar on several selections, including his own "Place du Terte," which would easily have fit in Count Basie's repertoire. He's equally comfortable playing Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" in a swing setting (after all, Stéphane Grappelli played it late in his career) and the leader switches to electric bass for a fusion treatment of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance." Frank Wolf is a solid soloist on both tenor and soprano saxophones, while the rhythm section of acoustic guitarist Hono Winterstein and bassist Diego Imbert shines as well. The photography, audio, and editing are first-rate throughout this excellent live set. There is also a documentary recorded around the time of this 2004 gig, featuring interview excerpts with Lagrene (speaking in French, though both English and Spanish subtitles are available). The guitarist recalls (as a ten-year-old) meeting Grappelli and making enough of a musical impression backstage that the violinist brought him out on-stage to join him for the second set. Lagrene talks about his love of a variety of guitarists, including B.B. King, George Benson, and Jaco Pastorius, all of whom have influenced his playing.

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