Biréli Lagrène Gipsy Project
(Biréli Lagrène Website)
Biréli Lagrène, Guitar
Martin Weiss, Violin
Hono Winterstein, Rhythm Guitar
Diego Imbert, Double Bass
Franck Wolf, Saxophone
Iridium Jazz Club
1650 Broadway, Corner of 51st St, NYC
Media Contact: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 15, 2005
Biréli Lagrène, in his new tighter style (both girth and presentation), immediately warmed up to his loyal fans of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz at Iridium tonight, many of whom had attended each and every set of Lagrène’s Gipsy Project. In the first set, Sweet Georgia Brown was an infectious introduction, with frenetic fingering on Lagrène’s exotic guitar. What is This Thing Called Love? showcased Martin Weiss on vivacious violin, before the theme slid to Lagrène, to Diego Imbert on double bass, and finally to Hono Winterstein and Lagrène on duo guitars. A lightning conversation exploded with Them There Eyes, as violin and lead guitar electrified the audience.
A more mellow mood ensued, but Lagrène produced seemingly thousands of notes to every rhythmic beat. Bountiful ballads fused jazz and swing, with the inclusion of Franck Wolf’s soaring saxophone, adding its contemporary style. Undulating Hawaiian themes seemed prevalent, with Wolf’s slow melodies, added to Lagrène’s guitar scat. Hawaiian turned to Latin, and a rhythmic rhumba resonated. One could imagine tropical breezes, as Iridium heated up. A hot swing soon blew in, and the full band handed the theme to Wolf, plus two racing guitars. A big band sound now contrasted with the gypsy motif, thanks to Weiss’ evocative violin.
The second set was still packed with most of the earlier fans, plus a stream of additional enthusiasts. Percussive swing passed to solo bass and eventually to Lagrène’s delicious solo, melancholy against the softest backup of bass and second guitar. Before we got too comfortable, speedy guitar gyrations exploded on the heels of seductive saxophone scat. When Weiss returned on violin, an intense interplay ensued, Lagrène and Weiss, a tornado on strings. All of Me, a violin solo, was wild and wanton, an endless riff, flowing up and down the scales.
At the finale of this incredible and innovative Gipsy Project, Lagrène and Weiss exchanged instruments, guitar-violin, and the audience gave appreciative accolades. As an encore, Lagrène played solo, a forceful figure onstage at the end of his Iridium Jazz Club Project. Kudos to Bireli Lagrène and his Gipsy Project. Check out Iridium Jazz Club’s website for upcoming events. Tell them you saw them on RobertaOnTheArts.com.
Bireli Lagrene Gypsy Jazz Quintet
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower