The latest release from the Hot Club of San Francisco finds the band expanding their horizons while keeping the ball squarely on the Gypsy-swing sound inspired by Django Reinhardt. While the band’s originals could easily fool casual listeners into thinking they were penned by Django and/or Stephane Grappelli, HCSF steers the caravan in a new direction by doing such things as deploying a string quartet on “Jonesin’” or performing a Gypsy-jazz face lift on “Song of India,” a classical number that Tommy Dorsey turned into a hit in 1937. Produced by Adam Levy (Norah Jones), Postcards from Gypsyland features stellar solo work by guitarist Paul Mehling and violinist Evan Price, who are accompanied on 6-string by GP lessons contributor Josh Workman, and Sam Miltich—an 18-year-old Gypsy-jazz whiz from the backcountry of Minnesota. With nine albums in tow, HCSF are in a good position to advance their cause. And whether it’s via an intriguing interpretation of a work by Maurice Ravel (a classical composer who often sat in on piano with Django’s band), adding vocals to Django’s “Nuages” (with lyrics written by lead guitarist Paul Mehling), or a savvy interpretation of a 5/4 musette piece by composer Aldo Romano—which sounds like something Django’s Hot Club quintet might have come up with while hanging out in Rio—HCSF is clearly broadening the lexicon of Gypsy jazz.
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