Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gypsophilia Constellation FMG 026

Danceable jazz? "Back in the day"  when jazz was the popular music of the day, jazz was indeed the dance music before the cultural dynamics of the United States began to shift and suddenly jazz too a back seat to the more formal contemporary classical approach of ball room dancing and the sonic mash up of rock and roll. The danceable rhythmic texture of jazz remained but the interest of the participants did not. Until now...

The Halifax-based Gypsophilia borders that musical space somewhere between Django Reinhardt and the more popular indie music of today. Transcending genre, time and place with a more spatial context of gypsy viruosity we find Constellation which is a remarkable release that sidesteps standard categorization with relative ease while making a great many critics desperately seeking a convienant genre to tag this most versatile ensemble. Opening with " Zachary's Czardas" we have Django Reinhardt meets Stephane Grapelli but with an infectious dance beat. If you find this tune lifeless perhaps it may be because your autopsy report has not yet returned. "Super Bowl Party" is a more introspective ballad where the intensity has been dialed back but not the lyrical beauty of this daring of quartets. Pushing the harmonic envelope has a slightly odd metered free form approach brought back to accessibility with a stellar trumpet solo from  Matt Myer. "Trick Wick" is another of the adventourous tracks highlighting the accessibility of gypsy jazz and giving a first rate example of the commercial viability of virtually any genre when placed in the correct hands.

With the exception of Django Reinhardt my tolerance for "Gypsy Jazz" has been at best limited to small bits and pieces of virtuoso brilliance that is simply too perfectly performed to ignore. With Constellation there is a fitting jazz makeover to timeless music with an air of humor and accessibility previously not found on most recordings by other groups that find themselves placed in the same genre.

These are 11 original songs that pop with energy and this may be partially due to the live to tape sessions that best capture the essence of Gypsophilia. A fresh, energetic organic masterclass in musical fun and viruosity all in the same package. Highly recommended!

Tracks: Zachary's Czardas; Bercy; OPA; Skirmish; Valse Povero; Montreal; Super Bowl Party; Goncourt; Damsel In Delight; Trick Wick; Vino Griego.

Personnel: Alec Firth & Nick Wilkinson: guitars; Matt Myer: trumpet & organ; Gina Burgess: violin; Ross Burns: guitar, percussion; Adam Fine: double bass.

A taste from You Tube