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Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | Naive

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

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

These acoustic guitar duets between Sylvain Luc and the renowned virtuoso Bireli Lagrene finds much common ground to share. From Django Reinhardt gypsyology to bop and pop themes, these two share a beautiful empathy. Of the 13 tracks, you hear the steady stream of swing on "Stompin' at the Savoy," the bopping unison lines of Reinhardt's "Douce Ambiance," and a classic, delicate take on Wes Montgomery's "Road Song." Popping, percussive guitar taps buoy the samba "Estate." "La Ballade Irlandaise" is in a nice 3/4 tempo, while a more chordal approach electrifies the most impressive cut of the date "Les Amoureux Des Bancs Publics," with the two switching melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic roles back & forth. Their most introspective number "Syracuse" exudes deep shades of purple, and Lagrene's 6/8 original "Made in France" is ultimately quick & bright, while "Zurezat" is a simple love-strewn, delicate waltz. There's also a funky take of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," and the dynamic phase or time shifting rendition of Lennon & McCartney's "Blackbird." The closer is a guitar/electric bass guitar duo, a loping snippet of a melody on Michel Petrucciani's "Looking Up." There are no planets crashing or oceans roaring, but instead an airy, light, unhurried tranquility is extant through this consistent date, a worthy addition to the jazz guitar continuum. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

Guitar duets should all be precious as this one from Bireli Lagrene and Sylvain Luc, as they mutually share musical thoughts, feelings, and honest emotions via a stack of familiar jazz standards. As equally talented players whose virtuosity is not staggeringly overwhelming, these two present a good deal of symmetry and balance, neither dominating the other. Unless you are personally familiar with the stylistic differences of the gypsy driven Lagrene or more contemporary Luc, it's likely their pure sound rather than technique sets them apart. Luc plays Godin guitar, while Lagrene prefers a Barault model, both relatively unamplified or processed, lending to the organic feel of these standards everybody knows. A resonant and languid version of "Summertime" is quite differently rendered in ringing. solemn, patient tones, with no worries or rushed-through cadences, but a bit of speedy soloing. The quick counterpoint and unison playing during "So What" lend toward mixed messages, but within a straight bop framework. Chick Corea's "Spain" and "Got a Match" give the two a chance to show off a bit, not so much on the former icon of contemporary repertoire as much as the latter track, which lets them charge ahead full steam in flurries of sixteenth and thirty-second notes. Steady tunes such as "Wave," "My One & Only Love," and "Someday My Prince Will Come" are more liquid and flowing, while the popping, crackling chords setting up "On Green Dolphin Street" and the percussive improv "Interlude" proved stellar examples of Lagrene and Luc's brilliance. Two pop tunes are included -- a gypsy bop take of James Taylor's "On the Fourth of July," and the old Four Seasons hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" in a tango mode. Overall, this is a solid recording that should please fans of these two great musicians, not a stunning or risk-free effort, but somewhere satisfyingly in the middle. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

Jazz - Released February 28, 2003 | Parlophone France

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This is one of guitarist Bireli Lagrene's better jazz albums of the 1990s. By this time he had pretty much discarded his original Django Reinhardt influence (even on "Nuages" he sounds nothing like Reinhardt) and he took time off from playing rock to perform a dozen familiar standards with bassist Niels Pedersen and drummer Andre Ceccarelli. Lagrene's technique had been admirable from the start and on this studio session his own musical personality was allowed to come to the surface. Highlights include "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," "Autumn Leaves," "Donna Lee" and "Ornithology." ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released November 20, 2008 | Le Chant du Monde

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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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
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Jazz - Released June 18, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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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
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Jazz - Released November 25, 2008 | Le Chant du Monde

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Jazz - Released October 26, 2018 | Naive

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Jazz - Released October 19, 2018 | Naive

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