Live Review: Stephane Wrembel, Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz, Los Angeles, CA

Material: Sharing solo guitar pieces, waltzes and gypsy jazz from Django Reinhardt, along with his original compositions, “Big Brother” (from Vicky Christina Barcelona) and “Bistro Fada” (from Midnight in Paris), guitar phenom Stephane Wrembel delighted jazz enthusiasts with an evening of fantastic music and story-telling at his stop in Los Angeles. Opening with solo performances on “Improvisation 1,” “Improvisation 2,” and “Echoes of Spain,” he delivered his trademark intricate artistry, fingerstyle expertise, and flamenco flavors alongside entertaining anecdotes about the musical legends he has long studied.

Musicianship: The addition of guitarist Tommy Davy and bassist Felix Kochendörfer shifted things to traditional gypsy stylings, including the magical lilting backdrop of “Montagne Ste. Geneviève“ and “Gin Gin,” adventurous delight of “Indifférence” (by Tony Morena), and equal parts delicate voicings—deliberate picking—heartfelt tones on “Dinah.” Davy and Kochendörfer shared impossibly smooth delivery on intricate runs and melodies, lent solid musical support, and collaborated superbly.

Performance: Wrembel’s dynamic, approachable demeanor created an easy, authentic vibe. Fabulous solo performances  by Davy and Kochendörfer showcased their  dedication to exquisite tone, and violinist Luanne Homzy added delicious string tension and precise pizzicato. The precisely timed cutoffs, seamless transitions, and incredible unity were magical to experience—especially on “Nuages,” where Wrembel and Davy switched to unison rhythm and chord lines to support Kochendörfer’s melodic bass solo. Another beautiful bass solo followed on “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” and “Tears” added gentle glissando runs and an unbelievably delicate unison ending. A mashup of Django’s “Claire de Lune” with Russian folk song, “Dark Eyes,” completed the set with solos all around.

Summary: The evening presented a casual musical elegance from a true gypsy guitar master. His band of accomplished artists unveiled a seemingly effortless, unspoken musical thread, and shared an untouchable virtuoso mastery of an underappreciated genre of jazz. Wrembel’s clear passion, superb tonality and stunning finger work make the most mind-blowing guitar lines appear elementary, and the trio blended perfectly, alternating warp-speed solos and melody trade-offs with graceful ease. A wonderful celebration of pure musical spirit.  

Contact: Fiona Bloom, [email protected]

Web: stephanewrembel.com  

Players: Stephane Wrembel, guitar; Tommy Davy, guitar; Felix Kochendörfer, bass; Luanne Homzy, violin