May 9, 2010

New Release: Hot Club of Detroit - It’s About That Time

It's About That TimeThis year is the centennial of Django Reinhardt's birth and the 76th anniversary of the formation of the original Quintette du Hot Club de France with Stephane Grappelli. From all appearances, the tradition of “gypsy jazz” is alive and well, and the Hot Club of Detroit is a prime example. They both honor the tradition and extend it in new directions. Formed by guitarist Evan Perri in 2003, the Hot Club of Detroit has been winning awards ever since, and their most recent album, It’s About That Time, demonstrates just how vital Django’s music remains to this day.
     The album gets off to a fast start with “On the Steps,” played at a blistering pace and with great facility. Other numbers such as “Noto Swing” and “Equilibrium” are also played “hot.” However, to my ear, while technically impressive, this leaves enjoyment of the tune itself lagging behind, and one wishes for a little more time to catch one’s breath. As with sex, speed of execution does not necessarily lead to the most satisfying experience.
     I much prefer the medium-tempo numbers and the slow swingers on the album, such as “Duke and Dukie” and “Patio Swing.” Here, the band members get to shine in extensive solos, and particular mention goes to Perri, accordionist Julien Labro, and Carl Cafagna on sax, who are all outstanding. Bassist Andrew Kratzat and rhythm guitarist Paul Brady keep things swinging for the drum-less quintet.
     The album includes songs written by Django, Charles Mingus (the funky "Nostalgia in Times Square"), and even Frédéric Chopin. But there is also a lot of terrific new material by members of the band, including the aforementioned “Patio Swing,” a quiet ballad called “Papillon,” and the edgy waltz "Sacre Bleu." If you are a fan of gypsy jazz and want to hear some of its contemporary permutations, check out It’s About That Time.


  1. Discovered Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli about 3 years ago through a friend at work, Bob Wilch. Django is particularly fun to "Pandora" (I don't know any other way to describe setting up a station in Pandora, so I'm morphing Pandora into a verb!).

    I like Hot Club of Detroit; they come up often on my Django station.

  2. The Hot Club of San Francisco is another excellent group in the Django tradition.

    Re: Pandora as a verb - I believe one of the meanings of the word is an Italian lute, so that is apropos. However, your verb form would have a whole different connotation in relation to the Greek myth, where getting "Pandora-ed" is something to be avoided.