Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gypsy Swing Project Paris-Dubai CD release concert

I have been a fan of The Gypsy Swing Project ever since I discovered their winter 2013 gig at Icho. The project, which started with gypsy guitar player Alexandre Valls and bassist Lakshmi Ramirez, later joined by guitarist Samouche and then drummer Jean-Paul Wahi, brought to me the sound of real foot-tapping gypsy jazz (to which I had then recently been introduced), with evident passion for this style of music.

My curiosity about what they were up to of late (I had only seen them perform at The Market of Everything and Fete de la Musique since that season) was recently answered when I received an invitation to their album release concert at Alliance Francaise. The album, entitled Paris-Dubai, and produced by the Kamal Musallam Arts Contracting label, includes over a dozen covers and reinterpretations in the tradition of the original Manouche gypsy jazz pioneer Django Reinhardt.

The concert itself, held in the AF auditorium, was thoroughly enjoyable, with the project quartet playing nearly all the tracks from the album, each to thunderous applause from the audience. Beginning with the upbeat "Cesar Swing" and a gypsy take on "La Vie en Rose", they powered through their track list with unwavering energy, playing some more mellow compositions among more peppy numbers that got many bopping and clapping to the rhythm. A few of them featured configurations or solos that showcased the unique bass and drum styles of Lakshmi and Jean-Paul, respectively, and the gypsy guitar skills of Alexandre and Samouche. The set reached its peak with the very lively "Sweet Georgia Brown", and the encore -- a true-blue Django -- sealed a great night of gypsy jazz.

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