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Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | naïve

Hi-Res Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Bireli Lagrene's long and outstanding career as a Django Reinhardt disciple has been reinforced time and time again, while he also makes inroads to extend and expand the tradition of gypsy jazz. While his acoustic guitar wizardry is unquestioned, his sincerity in keeping the hot swing of Reinhardt alive has been adopted by others, but not like Lagrene is capable of playing it. This drummerless trio with veteran bassist Diego Imbert and rhythm guitarist Hono Winterstein -- heard in recent times with the Dorado Schmitt family band -- is an exciting, tasteful, and skilled combo that takes liberties in this kind of vintage jazz without stressing it out. Many of these tracks are familiar old favorites, but a few have new twists, not to mention energy to burn. A version of Ahmad Jamal's "Poinciana" in particular has never really been done with a Parisian flair, and it's a nice change-up. "Limehouse Blues" is another chestnut given new incentive to swing with Imbert's bowed lines and rhythm churning more that normal. Most delightful is "Singing in the Rain," already joyful but here happy, over the top with an additionally whistled refrain. And "Tiger Rag" is about as playful, fun, and vigorous as it gets. One might wonder what George Harrison would think of a take on his pensive classic tune "Something," done in easy swing mode, or see George Shearing listening to a chunky, stride-filled version of "Lullaby of Birdland." Of the originals, "New York City" is a fast-paced metropolitan subway jam, "Sir F.D." for label honcho Francis Dreyfus has Lagrene in a languid solo repast, and "Made in France" has a choppy, 6/8 romp. There are some patient tunes indeed, but Lagrene is at heart a speed demon, ripping up the lesser-known Reinhardt tune "Micro" as if he's playing it in a vat of lit sterno. This is yet another in the long line of fine recordings the virtuoso Lagrene has offered to the world, and comes easily recommended. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released November 23, 2009 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released September 28, 2020 | naïve

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released October 19, 2018 | naïve

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

Since arriving on the jazz scene barely into his teens, guitarist Bireli Lagrene has continued to dazzle listeners with his formidable technique, but this solo concert finds him breaking new ground. Lagrene's ten originals show the influence of Django Reinhardt without being mere re-creations of 1930s Gypsy swing. In the brisk "R & Bi," Lagrene is simultaneously playing percussion by tapping on his instrument. The moving ballad "Capucines" and two virtuoso pieces, "Madras Express" and the miniature "To Bi or Not to Bi," are all highlights. The most unusual track is a medley of two rock songs, Queen's "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You," with the 1960s pop hit "It Was a Very Good Year," a combination that works better than it sounds, even if the middle selection comes across as filler. Highly recommended. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 8, 2010 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released June 6, 2006 | Jazzpoint Records

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

Bireli Lagrene has been so indelibly associated with the Gypsy guitar style of Django Reinhardt since the early '80s, and has recorded within that well-defined niche so often, that only his most die-hard fans might even be aware that he has quite often ventured into electric fusion and other genres during the last couple of decades as well. But never has he ventured so far afield from his roots as he does on Electric Side. The title only hints at just how electrified this session is: this is a decidedly contemporary take, stacked not only with guitar and synth riffs that could have come off an old Mahavishnu Orchestra album but samples, scratching, and other trappings of the non-Django world. Just to throw another wrench into the works, Lagrene augments the guitar-bass-drums-keys-turntablist lineup with saxophonist Franck Wolf (who has worked with him before and provides several of the album's more incendiary moments) and Andy Narell, one of the foremost steelpan players in the world. Whether the album will sit well with an individual listener may have more to do with that listener's expectations than anything that's happening within the music, however. To be sure, these guys are virtuosi, and they rip it up here: Lagrene is well suited for these high-energy, high-volume jams, with their breakneck paces and unexpected rhythmic shifts. And while DJ Afro Cut-Nanga comes off at times as more novelty than essential component, it's easy to understand why Lagrene wanted him on a set of tunes (mostly self-penned, save for Herbie Hancock's "Jack Rabbit" and "Incertitude," written by Django's son Babik Reinhardt) intended to push his own legacy into uncharted waters. That said, though, there is a palpable and pervasive lack of soulfulness to Electric Side that is never felt when Lagrene does his Django-inspired thing or stays within the bounds of more straight-ahead jazz. His chops on the electric guitar are never in question, but other recent efforts like 2001's Gypsy Project and 2006's Solo: To Bi or Not to Bi are the kind of Bireli Lagrene albums one is more likely to return to long after this exercise in strutting is shelved with a shrug. © Jeff Tamarkin /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Guitarist Bireli Lagrene, who started out as a young teenager very influenced by Django Reinhardt, has made a strong attempt to get away from the Reinhardt gypsy image. On this set, his guitar is often very rock-oriented and, although there are some acoustic moments, the emphasis is on fusion originals. The music is spirited and fun but not performed with a great deal of subtlety. Bireli Lagrene's future development (which direction will he head in next?) should be well worth watching. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 23, 2006 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released November 20, 2008 | Le Chant du Monde

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

When guitarist Bireli Lagrene first debuted as a 13-year-old, he sounded like an exact duplicate of Django Reinhardt. Since that time, Lagrene has sought to develop his own individuality but most of his fusion and rock-oriented records have been of lesser interest. For My Favorite Django he returns to the Reinhardt repertoire (all but "Clair de Lune" are Reinhardt compositions) but with a difference. Keyboardist Koono reharmonized most of the songs drastically, aiming for an orchestral sound with his synthesizer with several pieces utilizing his charts for woodwind and string sections. However there is a good use of contrast, including a spontaneous guitar/piano duet on a medium-tempo "Blues for Ike." Lagrene sounds more original than he did in his early days and he has a very impressive technique. Unfortunately the rhythms played by electric bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Dennis Chambers are unremittingly funky and so unimaginative as to sound as if they were recorded on a different day! One assumes that they were following instructions but, whoever's fault it is, that fatal flaw sinks this effort. The complete lack of swing from the rhythm duo (even on the up-tempo "I Got Rhythm"-based "Babik") drains most of the joy and purpose from these songs. Simply put, the original versions by Django Reinhardt are much better. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 15, 2010 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Fans of guitarist Bireli Lagrene's early work probably will not care for this often passionate CD. Lagrene, who had switched from swing to fusion a few years earlier (and from acoustic guitar to electric), mostly roars throughout seven of his originals (plus Django Reinhardt's "Incertitude"), jamming with tenor saxophonist Bill Evans, keyboardist Clifford Carter, electric bassist Victor Bailey, percussionist Café and one of four drummers. The music is well-played but not all that memorable; none of the original themes were destined to catch on. © Scott Yanow /TiVo