Reinier Voet & Pigalle44 – My Room, featuring Jelle van Tongeren
2013 Pigalle Records
Personnel; Reinier Voet- solo guitar, Jelle van Tongeren-violin, Jan Brouwer-rhythm guitar, Jet Stevens-double bass
2013 Pigalle Records
Tracks; 1. La Cordonnìere, 2. Valse de L’ivresse, 3. Minor Swing, 4. My Room, 5. Swing 49,
6. Pour Joseph, 7. La Déesse, 8.Danse Norvégienne, 9. Bossa Boldini, 10. Abandon,
11. Songe d’automne, 12. Vamp, 13 Pèche à La Mouche
Reviewed by Barry Wahrhaftig
There’s a quick back-story to this review; I was jamming with some friends, [new and old], in the town square in Samois-Sur-Seine. I was there for the Django Reinhardt Festival last June.I had met some old friends, and we were jamming in front of Django’s house, [with some new friends from many lands]. A woman came out of another house, and asked us if we wanted to play for drinks and food at the Bakery in town, at the invitation of the Mayor. We of course said oui! I dubbed the group the ‘International House of Django Band,’ it included my pals Irene Ypenburg, Lou DePietro and singer/songwriter Andrea Carlson, and folks from Israel, France and Holland.
After many songs and beers, we took a break, and we heard some wonderful sounds coming from a nearby table. So after a few songs, I figure out that the fellow playing lead is Reinier Voet, and the singer-guitarist is none other than Titi Bamberger, [AKA The unofficial ‘Mayor,’ Of Samoreau campgrounds]! * So after some introductions, and more rounds of beer and songs, Reinier gave me a copy of Pigalle44’s new CD. I enjoyed it greatly, playing it on the boom-box back at my room. [My apologies to Reinier for not reviewing it sooner, and thanks to Jan Brouwer for reminding me to ‘take care of business’]! BTW, his rhythm guitar playing is top-shelf, the band is super-tight,kudos to Jet Stevens, also!
The recording shows off some nice arranging chops by Reinier, and also violinist van Tongeren. The performances are very strong, and the selections are a nice balance of original material and standards. The CD starts off with a swinger penned by Voet called ‘La cordonnìere,’ [The Cobbler]. The intro is a quick wink at Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze,’ [but with an added Bb on top the iconic E7#9], [that got my attention right away]! The piece has more unexpected twists and turns than the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets of the old Latin Quarter of Paris. Nice solos by Voet and van Tongeren, and there’s a cool Gypsy folk dance like rit. and accelerando, towards the end. Even a piece as familiar as ‘Minor Swing,’ is re-imagined, starting with an off-beat reworking of the theme beginning on an F Major 7th chord. This isn’t the version you’ll hear at the Sunday jam! Voet and V.T. demonstrate their knowledge of Django and Grappelli’s recordings, with their own modern influences added. The additional sections, with their shifting tonal centers started to remind me a bit of M.C. Escher’s famous paintings. [Just when you think you know where the cadence is , it shifts unexpectedly].
‘Swing 49,’ [another Voet original], begins with an out-of-tempo Phygrian-Flamenco, intro. It’s followed by a swinging theme, with some interesting pedal point sections. Additional high points; the reworking of ‘Songe d’Automne,’ [a personal favorite], Voet’s unaccompanied playing on his original ‘Pour Joseph,’ and the vibe and playing on the lesser known [later] Reinhardt composition ‘Vamp.’ On the classic ‘Songe d’Automne,’ [Autumn daydream], they start out with a descending bit using Ebma7-Dma7 over a G Pedal to set up melody in Cminor. The main theme is re-harmonized, and the solo section has guitar and violin improvising ‘alone together,’ if you will, [without bass and rhythm guitar], in countrapuntal fashion. Fapy Lafertin, would probably say this was all rather ‘clever,’ and I would agree, that’s a good word. We don’t say things are ‘clever,’ so much here, [or if you are English; ‘brill,’ or ‘brilliant.’] 😉
I’d give this very close to five out of five stars. Great performances, by all. The interplay between van Tongeren and Voet really make this recording quite special. Voet plays his 1979 Di Mauro Model Jazz 2, on all but one cut, and he’s one of those players [like Dorado, Angelo, Stochelo etc.], where everything he does sounds wonderful; chords, solos, melodies, etc. The mark of a great player, like any Jazz Giant, is they can affect you with just their sound and touch on the instrument. [My only wish is one that I voice often; a guest vocal or two, or even an additional guest instrumentalist would be cool, even on a few tracks. Always nice for a vocal, I think, but that’s just me]. It would be really cool if Reinier would consider publishing some of his arrangements and compositions, [hint, hint]! Support these fine folks by buying the CD, go to their shows, etc. This is our near sacred duty, to share the sacraments, if you will.
High marks for cover layout and detailed liner notes, including a mini-review by Michael Dregni. They used a Kick-starter like deal to fund the project, and also thanked Christo Rupenthal of DjangoShirts fame, http://www.DjangoShirts.com. Visit Reinier’s page to hear samples of the tracks, and order the CD, etc; http://www.pigalle44.nl/
* Titi Bamberger will be touring the US Sept-Oct 2013, including stops in Chicago, NYC, and a gig on Oct 6, in Philly with the Hot Club of Philadelphia. See his Face Book page for info. I’ll post details for his Phila area show here; www.HotClubPhilly.com
DJANGO FESTIVAL ALL STARS-2012 [posted 6-18-2013]
For those of you that have been fortunate enough to have caught Dorado Schmitt & company live in concert at Birdland, the artistry on this CD will come as no surprise. Dorado is the star of the show; composer, Bandleader, virtuoso guitarist, violinist, and Father-figure.
He’s the driving force behind the Ensemble. Carrier of Django’s torch, and Keeper of the Sacred Flame. Ably assisted here by like-minded heavyweights, at the top of their form; Ludovic Beier-Accordion and Accordina, Pierre Blanchard-Violin, three of Dorado’s sons; Samson, and Amati Schmitt on guitar, Xavier Niko-Bass, and the amazing Anat Cohen on Alto Sax. The playing is quite inspired. Ludovic Beier’s solo and unaccompanied cadenza at the end of ‘Manoir De Mes Reves, shows some of the brilliance that we’ve come to expect from him. Players like Anat & Ludovic always bring something very special to the proceedings. Ms. Cohen’s Soprano sax on ‘Nuages,’ and the interplay between her and Dorado is quite moving, especially her use of vocal-like pitch inflections, in her melodic statement and solo. [I was at the show, it was brilliant]!
Many of the songs here are Stars in their own right. Dorado’s minor key Tango, ‘Song For Ettore,’ is gorgeous & haunting, with Dorado on Violin and Ludovic on Bandoneon. It’s as sensuous and sad as Piazzola, with young Amati contributing a soulful solo. Pierre Blanchard, [who was a disciple of Grappelli], shows off his writing skills with the Middle-Eastern sounding ‘Balcanic Dance,’ with Ludovic harmonizing his lines on accordion.
This recording is the most ambitious of the recordings of the ensemble, and it featuresa mixture of live and studio recordings. The proceedings are well-annotated in the liner notes, [‘Nuages,’ which was done live is listed as a studio track, and Ms.Cohen plays Soprano Sax on it, not Alto].
I’d give it 4 + ½ stars out of 5. Great solos and ensemble playing all-round.Highlights; ‘Melissa,’ a Benson inspired Latin romp, penned by Dorado,The afore-mentioned ‘Nuages,’ Balkanic Dance,’ ‘Song for Ettore, Also, the Classics ‘Bossa Dorado,’ and Swing Gitane. Also Dorado’s song ‘For Pierre,’ Is instantly memorable, [not surprising for the composer of pieces like ‘Bossa Dorado,’ and Tchavolo Swing].
I’d recommend it pretty highly. It’s accessible, and soulful, the real deal. Detailed track and personnel listing, and nice liner notes by Pat Philips.
Pat and Ettore deserve much credit for their efforts in bringing Dorado Schmitt & Co here for concerts. Producing shows like this these days is a major undertaking, to say the least.
[My quibbles are very minor; as with many live recordings, there are times a guitar is slightly out of tune, not a big deal, especially because the playing is so good. I would have liked to hear more of Anat Cohen, she’s a joy to hear, always. A vocal or two is always nice. Dorado is actually also quite a good singer]. [Also, I didn’t see a website listed for the Label, or for the Birdland shows, a bit unusual for this time].
Buy the CD, and try to make it to one of the shows. [Support the troops, as they say]! Son Samson Schmitt will be here with the crew for an East Coast Tour in June-July 2013 See; www.djangobirdland.com for details.
2013 Three’s a Crowd Records Produced by Jack Globenfelt, Recording and Festival produced by Ettore Stratta & Pat Philips ~
‘EVA SUR SEINE’ – THOMAS BAGGERMAN TRIO & EVA SCHOLTEN- 2013
Eva Scholten-vocals, Thomas Baggerman-guitar, Max Baggerman-rhythm guitar Machiel Willemsen-bass
Tracks; ‘Bernie’s Tune,’ ‘Une Belle Histoire,’ ‘ Stompin’ at the Savoy,’ ‘ Je Me Voyais Deja,’
‘Flambee Montalbanaise,’ ‘Dream of You.’
Thomas Baggerman is relative new-comer to the scene. I first heard about him and his trio
thru my friend Richard ‘Moncq,’ Halmans. His group’s 1st release ‘Le Weekend,’ which is on Moncq’s label, is a very solid 1st effort by these Dutch young players. Their six track EP with Eva Scholten,[their own release, it would appear], is perhaps even better.
They are having fun, and lots of it. It comes thru loud and clear on the disc, and frankly, the combination of the very pretty and charming Ms. Sholten with these fellows is a very nice pairing. [Even her stage name and CD name ‘Eva Sur Seine,’ is clever, and fun]!
Eva and trio start the proceedings off with a cookin’ up-tempo version of the bebop Chestnut ‘Bernie’s Tune,’ The solos start off with Eva scatting with Thomas playing along in unison, and it’s pure joy, that track won me over, right away. They both have a nice sense of swing, with interesting phrasing, using bar line shifts. They sound like they have studied, but they don’t sound like it’s hurt them, if you know what I mean! 
They tracks all sound like they were done in a single take, going more for a live feel, than for a ‘perfect & monumental’ recording. The next piece, ‘Une Belle Histoire,’ [‘A Beautiful Story’], is a 70’s French Pop tune, done by Michel Fugain. It starts off with a single guitar playing a simple Latin beat, soon joined by Eva’s voice. It’s very effective. It works, I think because Eva’s vocal is so un-affected and sincere. Thomas’ guitar work, and all the playing on the CD is also totally sincere and it avoids the irony and pretentiousness that is so prevalent in much of today’s Pop and Jazz music. ‘Stompin’ at The Savoy,’ features some nice scatting again by Eva, with nice support from the group. ‘Je Me Voyais Deja,’ is a song originally sung by the great Charles Aznavour. It begins with a short verse, sung in minor key, then shifts to an up-tempo groove, that I can only describe as crazy-happy! [I get the feeling that the lyrics tell a somewhat sad story of an aging singer, maybe a never-was, who still lives to perform. The story is perhaps juxtaposed with the impossibly happy beat. [I’m not totally sure of this, because I am still trying to learn French, but it appears that way]. It ends with the group whistling, [perhaps symbolizing bravado], it’s terrific! BTW, I don’t know much about them, just that they are all Dutch, and young.
The famous Gus Viseur accordion instrumental ‘Flambee Montalbanise,’ is given a vocal treatment here. Ms. Scholten handles the wide leaps very well, and the piece works. [Not my favorite track, but still good, and quite ambitious]. I give them points for imagination and creativity. The last piece is Django’s ‘Dream of You,’ with English lyrics. High spirits, once again. A perfect song to start your day. It sounds like a sunny day in Paris, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that! I’d give this EP 5 stars, they hit it out of the park here. Looking forward to more from these folks.
There are some Youtube videos of the crew performing, [not high-tech, just charming];
and for more info; www.ThomasBaggerManTrio.com
 In Louie Prima’s song ‘the Lip,’ he says, ‘I can read music, but not so much that it hurts my playing’!
PAULUS SCHÄFER – TWELFTH YEAR 2012 MONCQ RECORDS
Personnel; Paulus Schäfer-Guitar,Nous’che Rosenberg-Rhythm Guitar, Tim Kliphuis-Violin,
Noah Schäfer-Bass, special guest-Stochelo Rosenberg-Guitar
This fine recording is the first offering from Moncq Records, a new label dedicated to what’s usually called ‘Gypsy Jazz,’ or ‘Jazz Manouche.’ The modern day proponents of the style are basically Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s musical heirs. Paulus Schäfer is part of the Dutch-Sinti Gypsy community that traces it’s musical roots back to the legendary Wasso Grünholz. Wasso was a driving force and teacher for many of the players in the community, which has produced many of the genre’s top players; Fapy Lafertin, Jimmy & Stochelo Rosenberg, to name a few.
Much credit goes to the Label’s founder Richard ‘Moncq’ Halmans, for assembling a stellar group of players, and also for enlisting veteran violinist Tim Kliphuis to produce and perform on the release. I’ll be doing a piece on the Label and Richard Halmans’ vision for it soon. [They have managed to produce quite an nice array of work in a short while, so stay tuned].
The personnel on the release shows some close ties, both familial and perhaps culturally. Bassist Noah Schäfer is nephew to Paulus, and Nous’che Rosenberg is Stochelo’s cousin. Tim Kliphuis was a protégé of Grappelli’s, and has performed and recorded with Fapy Lafertin. [Paulus was mentored by Fapy]. Paulus has a strong clean sound. He can burn up the fretboard with the best of them, but he doesn’t overplay. His sense of melody and taste prevail, which, frankly, isn’t always the case with guitarists in this style, as we all know[!] I can hear some of Fapy’s influence in Paulus’ playing, which is a welcome rarity, for sure.
The CD is a nice mixture of current and classic sounds, both in solos and in song choices. Gypsy Jazz will be kept alive as long as there are players like Paulus and company practicing the art. The recording opens with the medium swing of Ninine Garcia’s ‘Paquito.’ The group meshes tightly on the stop-time melodic statement, and then settles into a tasty swing groove. The interplay between the players on the Hot Club classic ‘Black & White,’ will make you forget your troubles, and get happy, for sure. The cut swings hard and Tim and Paulus feed off and inspire each other here with fervor.* They do a short version of the ballad ‘She.’ It was originally done by Charles Aznavour, and co-written by Aznavour and Herbert Krezmer. Paulus sets the piece up in a 12/8 or triplet feel, and he and Kliphuis take turns with sections of the melody. It’s nice to hear a piece like this that isn’t part of the repertoire, [ the piece isn’t cluttered with solos, they play some nice fills, but their reading of the melody is the main focus]. [Frankly, a good lesson for players coming up]! I personally feel that not every piece needs solos, and it changes up the standard format].
Some of the highlights; ‘Paquito,’ ‘Black & White,’ ‘Clair De Lune,’ ‘For Babs,’ and ‘Sunny,’ [the latter feature Stochelo as guest soloist], and also the old standard ‘Recado Bossa,’ which sounds a bit like the ubiquitous ‘Bossa Dorado. Paulus contributes some nice writing, including ‘Drew’s Waltz.’ He shows off his unaccompanied playing on ‘Costa,’ in dropped ‘D’ tuning.
I’d give the CD close to five out of five stars, [four and ¾]. It would please traditionalists and modernists alike, and we can look forward to more great releases by Monc. The art and packaging are very well done, as are the liner notes and track listing, etc. My only very slight quibble is that the intonation on the guitar on the solo piece ‘Costa’ is ever so slightly out, [fairly common when using dropped ‘D’ tuning], but still, a great record, and very highly recommended. [Paulus’ reading of the song makes the piece a real gem].
The CD is a ‘must have,’ and I’m really looking forward to hearing the next releases, this Label is going to shake things up. [The CD is on iTunes].
Track list; ‘Paquito,’ ‘ Black & White,’ ‘She,’ ‘Niejala,’ ‘For Babs,’ ‘Costa,’ ‘ Drews Waltz,’ ‘Twelth Year,’ ‘Theme for N.Y.,’ ‘Recado Bossa Nova,’ ‘Viper’s Dream,’ ‘Sunny,’ ‘clair De Lune,’ ‘Mimosa’ Stochelo Rosenberg is featured on tracks 5 & 13
here’s link to a cool promo video for the title track;
Link for Moncq Records www.Moncqrecords.com
* Or as my friend Marty Grosz would say, ‘we will play with dispatch and vigor..’ ‘that’s dispatch and he’s vigor!’
 The song was covered by Elvis Costello, and is on the soundtrack of the Film ‘’Notting Hill.’ The song is credited to Aznavour on ‘12th Year,’ but it was co-written by Krezmer.
Les Doigts de l’Homme-1910 CD review 2011 ALMA Records Toronto Canada
Most Gypsy Jazz aficionados already know that this French quartet is one of the freshest sounding Gypsy Jazz bands on the scene. ‘1910’ [named for Django Reinhardt’s birth year], looks to be their fourth release. The quartet, consists of guitarists Olivier Kikteff, Yannick Alcocer & Benoit Convert, with Tanguy Blum on Bass.
They’re quite popular among Gypsy Jazz cognoscenti. Michael Horowitz of Djangobooks.com* called them ‘the prog rock’ of Gypsy Jazz, [Their name, which translates as ‘the fingers of Man,’ is a take-off on Paine’s treatise ‘The Rights of Man’].
One of the main attributes in their favor is that all of the group’s members have serious arranging skills, [and they can play]! We’ve all been to G.J. shows or heard CDs where the solos and playing is very good, but there’s not much thought put into arrangements etc. Most of the writing is by Kikteff and Alococer, but everyone contributes. I really enjoyed the group’s ability to add interesting touches to chestnuts like ‘I Found a New Baby,’ and the CD’s opener ‘Blue Skies.’ [Their odd-meter treatment for ‘Old Man River’ is also quite nice].
The Latin groove that they added for the Musette standard ‘Indifferance,’ is another example of how to make a familiar piece interesting and new. The part writing for the ensemble is reminiscent of modern Guitar groups like the California Trio, and all the soloists have a nice balance of traditional and modern ideas. Their originals like the waltz ‘Niglos,’ [an homage to the guitar maker, penned by Kikteff], show their ability to mesh traditional sounds and forms to modern harmonic concepts.
Pieces like ‘Appel Direct’ pompe along nicely, and the production values on the CD is as a sharp as one of Dordo Schmitt’s suits. The artwork, liner notes, [in French & English], and overall design is very well-done. [They get high marks for including the order of soloists]! The amazing guitar work of Adrien Moignard is featured on the title track ‘1910,’ and clarinetist Stephane Chausse adds a nice flavor to ‘Bolero’ and ‘Russian Melody.’
It would be very cool if they would publish some of their arrangements, [hint, hint]! I would give this effort five out of five stars. It’s a CD that will appeal to traditionalists and modernists alike. If this is the future of Django’s music, I approve!
Tracks; Blue Skies, Ol’ Man River, Niglo 1, Waltz, Appel Direct, 1910
St James Infirmary blues, I’ve Found a New Baby, Bolero, Feerie,
Indifference, Blue Lou, Russian Melody, Improvisation #2,
Swing 48, There Will Never be another You, Minor Swing, Improsture #1
[This review was originally published in ‘Just Jazz Guitar Magazine.’] http://justjazzguitar.com/index.php *Michael Horowitz is the founder of the DjangoBooks website, and the author of books such as ‘Gypsy Picking.’ http://www.djangobooks.com/
Hot Club d’Europe – Kouvola Junction – JazzPearlsRecords-0001 released 2012
Personnel; Paulus Schäfer-guitar, Olli Soikelli-guitar, Arnold Van Der Berg-bass
This trio recording features the guitar work of Paulus Schäfer and Olli Soikelli, ably assisted by Arnold Van Der Berg on bass. Soikelli is a bit of a newcomer, [he’s 21 at this writing, this is his second recording], Paulus Schäfer, 35, is part of the Dutch-Sinti Gypsy Jazz community. He replaced the legendary Jimmy Rosenberg for a short stint in the ‘Gypsy Kids,’ group. He was mentored by none other than Fapy Lafertin. The CD was recorded in Finland, which is where Soikelli hails from. According to the notes the tracks were recorded in a studio next to a frozen lake. You would never know that from the vibe on this release, because it cooks and simmers with plenty of heat throughout. The empathy between all of them, and most especially the guitarists is quite evident. [It frankly puts this release ahead of the pack, so to speak]. I was able to catch two performances of Olli’s last fall. He did a set at Barbes in Brooklyn, and an evening at Trumpets in North NJ. He really tore it up, [as did Vinny Raniolo, who was part of the proceedings]. Olli played with skill and maturity that isn’t often heard in players that young, especially in someone that wasn’t born into a Sinti or Manouche family.
The song selection on the CD is solid, it includes standards of the genre like ‘Songe d’Automne,’ ‘Anniversary Song,’ and classics like ‘Cheek to Cheek, and one group original, ‘Kouvola Junction,’ the CD’s title track. They get high marks for melding the slow movement of the ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ with ‘Josef, Josef.’ The former was used by Chick Corea in his classic composition ‘Spain.’ Josef, Josef is a song that started life as Klezmer piece, now part of the Gypsy Jazz repertoire. [It’s called ‘Petriarka on Stephane Wrembels 1st CD, ‘Introducing Stephane Wrembel]. They manage to breathe new life into staples like ‘Dark Eyes,’ by use of some nice two guitar interludes, along with some nice stop-time kicks, and blazing solos. ‘Songe d’ Automne,’ starts off with the bass playing a pedal point on the dominant, [G], while the guitarists set up a vamp similar to Miles’ intro for ‘On Green Dolphin Street,’ [here they use Cmi9, D7, Db-Cmi]. These little touches add a lot to the overall experience. Olli and Paulus play a tasty harmonization of the melody to ‘Josef, Josef,’ and here again, everyone meshes tightly, the piece goes out with a nice tag. [Hey, I’m sure that I’m not the only Allman Brothers fan here]!
‘Nuages,’ is a beautifully rendered unaccompanied solo, [I believe by Paulus]. [BTW, I would have liked info on the order of solos, etc.] All, in all, I’d give it five out of five stars. Be sure to get it, and also look for live performances by Olli and/or Paulus. Olli was on the East coast gigging last fall, and is due back in May. Paulus has played in some of the West Coast DjangoFests, which are produced by Nick Lehr. I hear from Nick that Olli will be performing at DFNW this year. He and Paulus have been featured as a performers and instructors at ‘Django In June.’
Track list; ‘Anniversary Song,’ ‘Cheek to Cheek,’ ‘Others of Us,’ ‘Songe d’Automne,’ ‘Theme from Concierto de Aruanjuez/Josef-Josef,’ ‘Nuages,’ ‘French Heels,’ Fly Me to the Moon,’ ‘Dark Eyes,’ ‘Autumn Leaves,’ Kouvola Junction’
Reviewed by Barry Wahrhaftig