Biréli Lagrène

Solo: To Bi or Not To Bi

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Since arriving on the jazz scene barely into his teens, guitarist Bireli Lagrene has continued to dazzle listeners with his formidable technique, but this solo concert finds him breaking new ground. Lagrene's ten originals show the influence of Django Reinhardt without being mere re-creations of 1930s Gypsy swing. In the brisk "R & Bi," Lagrene is simultaneously playing percussion by tapping on his instrument. The moving ballad "Capucines" and two virtuoso pieces, "Madras Express" and the miniature "To Bi or Not to Bi," are all highlights. The most unusual track is a medley of two rock songs, Queen's "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You," with the 1960s pop hit "It Was a Very Good Year," a combination that works better than it sounds, even if the middle selection comes across as filler. Highly recommended.

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