Livestream Caffé Lena • Saratoga Springs, NY
Players: Stephane Wrembel, guitar; Thor Jensen, guitar; Ari Folman-Cohen, bass; Nick Anderson, drums; Nick Driscoll, clarinet and saxophone; Daisy Castro, violin
Material: Celebrating the release of The Django Experiment VI, Stephane Wrembel and his jazz ensemble did not disappoint in their latest endeavor. Streaming from the historic Caffé Lena, the set covered all 10 tracks from the latest release––including covers from Cole Porter and Henri Texier––as well as three of Reinhardt’s solo guitar pieces (“Improvisation #1,” “Echoes of Spain,” and “Naguine”). The group also performed “Bistro Fada,” Wrembel’s original composition for the 2011 Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris, and ended the evening with Russian folk song, “Dark Eyes.”
Musicianship: Opening with solo guitar pieces, Wrembel delivered delicate, deliberate strumming and hints of flamenco highlighting his guitar mastery, with the third piece (also included on their latest album), “Naguine,” coming through as a playful, soulful blues. As the rhythm section joined him on the second performance of “Naguine,” Nick Anderson’s lilting brushes and Ari Folman-Cohen and Thor Jensen’s steady bass and guitar showcased the group’s unspoken communication and easiness with their tight, experienced sound.
Performance: Traditional waltzes shined in the Gusti Malha cover, “La Valse des Niglos,” with its strict metronome beat and warm melodic layering, and in the musette stylings of Wrembel’s original “Bistro Fada.” Jimmie Lunceford cover, “Dream of You,” and Reinhardt cover, “Impromptu,” each featured Daisy Castro on violin and Nick Driscoll on saxophone with intoxicating duets, the latter piece including solos by each member of the band, and capped with a fabulous outro. Another stunning duet between Wrembel and Castro opened “Nuages,” and “Swing de Paris” had a tight, polished guitar sound and crisp violin and clarinet sections. “St. James Infirmary” brought a New Orleans’ style dirge with muddy guitar and heavier bass notes, decorated with haunting violin and clarinet solos.
Summary: From his humble entrance to his energetic solos throughout the evening, it was clear Wrembel has an undying commitment to his craft and a passion for sharing historical anecdotes surrounding the legendary namesake of the evening. Wrembel and his band delivered an effortless interwoven gypsy jazz tapestry and evoked images ranging from joyful sips of wine with friends in the French countryside to a Sunday brunch in New Orleans: a fantastic unfolding for any jazz aficionado.
Watch the Livestream Performance on YouTube