Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Welcome Return From Obscurity by a New York Romany Jazz Outfit

For many years before the 2020 lockdown, the music school around the corner from St. Marks Park in the East Village put on a weekly series of free lunchtime concerts in front of the church just west of Second Avenue. These ran the gamut from jazz, to klezmer and various styles from the tropics. Back in the early teens, you would see homeless people converging on the space, seemingly out of nowhere, right before the end of the show. That’s because the organizers frequently gave away cookies when the band finished up. The series has returned this year, and it’s very unlikely that there will be cookies for the final show there on July 28 at half past noon. But if you live or work in the neighborhood, you can catch a rare appearance by a group who’ve played there a few times, Gypsy Jazz Caravan.

This may be their first show since the lockdown – beyond an old Reverbnation page, you have to go to the Wayback Machine to find out much of anything about them. They play mostly originals in the time-honored Django Reinhardt tradition, plus a few covers like La Vie En Rose where their sense of humor comes through. This blog was in the house (or, more specifically, in the shade of a tree across the street) for an enjoyably purist, pretty low-key show they played there on a steamy June afternoon in 2016.

Violinist Rob Thomas, lead guitarist Marc Daine, rhythm guitarist Glenn Tosto and bassist Mike Weatherly’s four tracks on the Reverbnation page give you a good idea of what they’re about. With the first one, Bossa Roma. they underscore how effective it can be when you switch out a brisk shuffle beat for a slinky clave groove in order to transform a wistful Romany jazz melody. Their La Vie En Rose cover has some characteristically sly flourishes, while Le Musette de L’Arrogance, a sprightly, biting minor-key waltz, has Thomas doubling Daine’s melody line with a stark melismatic edge..

If you want more Gypsy Jazz Caravan, their 2006 album Pour Les Zazous is up at youtube. The songs are a lot more diverse than all the shredders in the Django cult typically play. One of the highlights among the shuffle tunes is the enigmatic Torment in A Minor; another is the bittersweetly strolling Do the Promenade. If you want a sentimental waltz, White Hotel is for you. The best song on it is Land of the Lonely, with Daine’s spiky leads and Thomas’ shivery intensity. If you miss Stephane Wrembel’s legendary residencies around town, this may be as good as it gets for that style of music right now in New York.

July 26, 2022 - Posted by | gypsy music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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