Federico Britos: Hot Club of the Americas
2014: (Album Facebook Page)
(Album Amazon Page)
Federico Britos on Violin
Jorge Garcia on Guitar
Felix Gomez on Piano
Edwin Bonilla on Percussion
Renyel Rivero on Bass
Carlomagno Araya on Drums
Gonzalo Rubalcaba on Piano
Giovanni Hidalgo on Congas
Cecile McLorin Salvant on Vocals
Antonio Adolfo on Piano
Hendrik Meurkens on Harmonica
(and 12 additional guest musicians)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 4, 2015
This CD is pure pleasure, high class extraordinaire, in the eclectic genres of Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Piaf, Big Band era, and French crooners. Federico Britos, a violinist from Uruguay, is a maestro, as he swirls his strings, soaring through ballads, like “The Sheik of Araby” and Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages”. It was almost impossible to choose four tracks, as the Hot Club of the Americas is a sextet, and beyond this group, there are a total of five special guests and thirteen additional musicians. All of the special guests, except vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, have been reviewed for years on these pages. In fact, liner notes are written by Paquito D’Rivera, whose music has been reviewed repeatedly on these pages, as well. This is a must-have, must-listen-to over and over again, recording, with melodic music so magnetic, you’ll need a dance partner to maximize the experience..
#2 – J’attendrai – Composed by D. Olivier/N. Rastelli/L. Poterat. I have heard this song sung by romantic, French 1930’s crooner Jean Sablon, among others. But, here, the Hot Club of the Americas takes this iconic ballad to a new level. Federico Britos, on sassy violin, and Hendrik Meurkens, on swinging harmonica, share the theme, as it morphs in the moment. The clavé, rambunctious beat, could bring one to click your hells savoy-style. On the track are also Jamie Ousley on bass, Claudio Spiewak on guitar, Rafael Solano on percussion, and Jaui Schneider on piano.
#3 – I’m Confessin’ that I Love You – Composed by D. Dougherty/E. Reynolds/A. Neiburg. This has to be the most extraordinary interpretation of this song I’ve ever heard. The theme grips the listener from the first note. Gonzalo Rubalcaba, on piano, and Mr. Britos share the lead theme, before the string section takes it. Five violinists, two violists, one cellist, and one bassist are in the recording string section, and they breeze in like a 40’s musical film. The level of serendipitous surprise, when strings turn to congas, and slow step turns to bossa, is creative genius. This is a masterfully produced album.
#7 – Mélodie au crépuscule – D. Reinhardt. With Antonio Adolfo featured on piano, Mr. Ousley on bass, Mr. Spiewak on guitar, and Mr. Solano on percussion, this rare melody came to life. I’ve heard numerous Django jazz concerts over the years, but I did not recall this Django ballad. It was performed here with reverence and nuance, with Mr. Britos taking embellishment liberties that added spark and spice to the soothing theme. It should be noted that the Hot Club of the Americas sextet, as well as Mr. Britos, bring astounding rhythms and resonant tones to each track, on which each musician appears, with Mr. Garcia on guitar, Mr. Gomez on piano, Mr. Bonilla on percussion, Mr. Rivero on bass, and Mr. Araya on drums.
#12 – La Vie en rose – L. Guglielmi/E. Piaf. It happens that “La Vie en Rose” is one of my favorite songs, and Cecile McLorin Salvant sings two tracks of this ballad, the first, track #5 in English, and this track #12 in French, which I tremendously prefer. Ms. Salvant is native French, so the accent is “parfait”. The full string section reappears, with incandescence. Mr. Britos also takes a sumptuous violin solo, evoking the soulful crooning of the ensemble of strings. Ms. Salvant’s vocals often whisper, like a warm breeze. This is a decidedly different interpretation from Piaf’s, less torch, more candles.