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Hot Club of Detroit, It's About That Time

Ever since the release of Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown in 1999, there has been a blossoming of interest in the music of the late jazz guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt. A number of ensembles have sprung up paying homage to Reinhardt’s Hot Club of France: from the Hot Club of Philly to the Hot Club of Cowtown.

The Hot Club of Detroit stands out because, more than any other Gypsy Jazz spinoff, they treat Reinhardt’s music as a part of the jazz tradition. As my friend Paul Brady–who plays rhythm guitar for the group–has argued here before, this is an under-appreciated aspect of Reinhardt’s legacy. Their latest release, It’s About That Time, continues this project admirably.

The group consists of Evan Perri on lead guitar, Julien Labro on accordion, Carl Cafagna on sax and clarinet, Andrew Kratzat on bass and Brady on rhythm guitar. The unusual instrumentation allows for clever exploration of the Gypsy Jazz repertoire: the title track, for example, is a mashup of Reinhardt’s Heavy Artillerie with the Miles Davis classic. The group also borrows from source material beyond the Gypsy Jazz canon–take their 5/4-grooving cover of Charles Mingus’s “Nostalgia in Times Square,” bouncing with the same aplomb of Reinhardt’s music from 75 years ago.

The original compositions on the album reflect a similar quality. The opening track, “On the Steps,” mixes Reinhardt’s emblematic up-tempo virtuosity with Coltrane-inspired harmony, to great effect. As with Crump’s Reclamation, this project conveys a clear musical message: a combination of contemporary-leaning innovation and deep roots in the jazz tradition.

Most music consumption these days is digital, but you might want to get a hard copy of this CD, as it features liner notes by the esteemed jazz writer and historian Dan Morgenstern, a nice bonus that places The Hot Club of Detroit even more deeply into dialogue with the music’s past.

My friend Paul Brady–Django Reinhardt scholar, guitarist and aspiring sommelier–has spent much of the past two years with me in the MA Program in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers. He is now the proud author of a new blog, It’s About That Time, named after his latest recording with the Hot Club of Detroit.

Paul has posted here before, so you know what to expect from him: a unique, thoughtful perspective that challenges the stereotypes about jazz, the guitar, classical music, wine and whatever else comes up along the way. I know that I’m looking forward to reading, and I hope that you do too. While you’re at it, follow him on Twitter @paulbradymusic.

Again, the link: Paul Brady’s It’s About That Time

As a part of my M.A. degree at Rutgers, I have had the pleasure of interning at WBGO, the NYC area’s leading jazz radio station. Working closely with producer Josh Jackson, I have begun to learn the ropes for putting together their weekly showcase for new jazz trends, The Checkout.

Since it’s finals week and all, Josh decided to hand the reins over to me for this week’s show (well, Josh still helped, but I’ll take the glory anyway.) Tune in tomorrow night at 6:30 pm EST to 88.3 FM in the New York metro area, or listen online at Wednesday morning, the show will be up at the website as well. While you’re at it, subscribe to the podcast.

UPDATE: Show just aired live! Thanks to everyone who listened. If you missed it, check it out here.

This week’s show will highlight some of the best student performances from last month’s Jazz Appreciation Month celebration. To frame the hour, I asked a few questions to four different students who are graduating from local jazz schools: Peter Yuskauskas from The New School, Jeremy Fratti from Jersey City University, Julian Smith from the Rutgers Mason Gross School for the Arts and Paul Brady from the Rutgers Master’s in Jazz History and Research. It will also feature music from the Julliard and Berklee student jazz ensembles as well as music by the four interviewees.

Enjoy the show tomorrow night, and feel free to let me know what you thought of it here. And while you’re at it, stop over and pledge a few dollars over at WBGO — your support will help shows like The Checkout continue to grace the airwaves and the internets.

This cartoon version of Patrick Jarenwattananon demonstrates what I'll be doing often this spring

When it rains, it pours!  I haven’t been writing much here at the blog, mostly because I’ve been busy preparing for Montreal, attending class, and writing my MA thesis.  Expect something to chew on in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I’ve been asked to present even more research in the next two months!  All in all, I have four presentations on my spring calendar, and would be honored if you came to check out any of them:

1) The Jazz Journalism Association presents the research of three jazz scholars under 30: yours truly on Jack Teagarden, Paul Brady on Django Reinhardt and Jared Negley on Sonny Sharrock.  The panel will be hosted by David Adler and Howard Mandel.  Tuesday, March 9, 6-8 PM at the New School.

2) The aforementioned presentation at the McGill Music Graduate Symposium.  March 12-14 at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

3) The same presentation, “Rhythmic Dissonance in the Early Improvisation of Jack Teagarden” at the University of Cincinnati Music Theory and Musicology Society‘s 2010 Graduate Student Conference.  April 9-10 in Cincinnati, OH.

4) A roundtable discussion and overview of my research at the Institute of Jazz Studies, part of their monthly Jazz Research Roundtable series.  April 21, 7-9 PM at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, NJ.

I hope to see some of you there — maybe even meet you for the first time.  In the meantime, bear with me as I try to keep my head above water while continuing to provide you with jazz-related food for thought.

To celebrate Django Reinhardt’s 100th birthday this past Saturday, I am pleased to bring my friend Paul Brady on board to write the first guest column for Lubricity!
Paul is an expert on all things Django: he is currently completing his M.A. in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers University, where he has written a thesis entitled “Django Reinhardt The Jazz Musician: His Abilities; His Influence; His Legacy.”  Paul is also a member of the Hot Club of Detroit, a group of young musicians dedicated to furthering Django’s legacy by combining his music with contemporary jazz.  Their new record, It’s About That Time (Mack Avenue), will be coming out in April.  In this essay, Paul offers some criticism to those who have created the mythology of Gypsy Jazz at the expense of historical fact and the spirit of jazz improvisation: Read the rest of this entry »

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