Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Gaucho at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 1/29/09

Gaucho are not a Steely Dan cover band, nor do they wear cowboy hats. According to the band’s website, their name derives from the Romanes equivalent for “gringo,” i.e. they may not have Roma blood but they have the sound down cold. Last night at Barbes the self-described gypsy jazz band out of San Francisco showed off the virtuosity and intensity that keeps them busy with constant gigs in their hometown. For this show, acoustic guitarist/bandleader Dave Ricketts was accompanied by the band’s regular accordionist Rob Reich, in addition to another acoustic guitarist and a sub bassist who got a real workout, expertly and briskly walking the changes.


Interplay defines this band. Athough the band frequently played solos around the horn (or at least between the two guitarists) on many of the songs, it was the intricacy of the melodies intertwining among all the instruments that was their most obviously compelling feature. In a mix of Django Reinhardt classics and other similar material, they breezed through a small handful of 6/8 musette instrumentals, bouncing, almost martial dance tunes including the classic Swing 42, and a handful of vocal numbers. Chanteuse Ariel Morgenstern (sp?), a friend of the band was called out of the crowd to deliver a lickety-split version of the oldtimey blues What Will the Neighbors Say, a strikingly authentic French song with a beautifully expansive solo from the second guitarist (and strikingly authentic French vocals), and an aptly dark, anthemic take of Brother Can You Spare a Dime.


Throughout the show, Ricketts worked every gypsy jazz trick in the book: fast climbs up the scale against a single reverberating string, big staccato blocks of chords and innumerable lightning-fast arpeggios, a style echoed by his cohort. Reich would deftly insinuate himself into the mix with a fluidly lyrical style, at one point deviously hammering on a trill until the rest of the band realized they’d better get out of the way, fast. The band has 3 cds out, including an intriguing live one. Bay Area listeners who don’t already know this band from their long-running weekly residency at Amnesia and elsewhere have a real treat waiting for them; New York fans reading this and wish they’d caught the Barbes show can still see them tonight (Fri Jan 30) at Drom at 10.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment