The influence of acoustic guitarist Django Reinhardt did not end when he died of a stroke on May 16, 1953 at the relatively young age of 43; the gypsy jazz style that he pioneered continued to enjoy a small but devoted cult following half a century later, especially in Europe. Reinhardt first became influential before World War II, and his work was still influencing young acoustic guitarists in the 2000s. That influence is illustrated by Reflections of Reinhardt, a compilation of '90s and early-2000s recordings. But it would be a mistake to think that everything on this 56-minute CD is a carbon copy of Reinhardt's innovative Le Hot Club recordings of the '30s; many of the artists combine Reinhardt's influences with other influences. Guitarist Jonny Hepbir, for example, has blended elements of Reinhardt with Spanish and Middle Eastern influences. Reflections of Reinhardt is full of artists who, although obvious Reinhardt admirers, are doing things that Reinhardt did not do. One of them is guitarist Robin Nolan, who favors a bossa nova groove on "Señor Bob" and quotes two Beatles gems ("And I Love Her" and "Norwegian Wood") on the congenial "Friar Park"; Reinhardt, of course, didn't live to see either the bossa nova explosion of the early '60s or the rise of England's Fab Four. And while Nat King Cole was quite popular when Reinhardt was alive, the two never recorded together. But on Bobby Troup's "Route 66" and Duke Ellington's "Caravan," the Cole-minded vocalist Randy Greer joins forces with Nolan and imagines what might have happened if Cole had gone to Paris and played with Reinhardt. Offering its share of surprises, this enjoyable compilation demonstrates that admiring Reinhardt's innovations does not mean that one has to sound exactly like him.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson