Howard Alden: I Remember Django – Arbors ARCD 19401, 58:26 ****:
(Howard Alden – guitar; Matt Munisteri – guitar; John Burr – bass; Anat Cohen – clarinet (tracks 2, 3, 4, 7, 8); Warren Vaché – cornet (tracks 1, 5, 6, 11))
It is not possible to talk about the development of jazz guitar without referring to Django Reinhardt, who was probably the most significant jazz musician to emerge from Europe in the last century. Both as a musician and a composer; he made a profound impression on many of the early jazz guitar practicioners including Charlie Christian and Les Paul among others. In this latest effort, Howard Alden offers his own unique approach to the music associated with Django.
Since Alden has agreed that the music of Django was a motivation early in his career, it is not surprising that he would chose to offer homage to the great guitarist. Leading off with a lively rendition of “Who Cares?” the groups sets the tone, with Vaché joining in on cornet to complete the musical framework. This combination is featured on a number of tracks but to particularly appealing effect on ” Insensiblement” where Vaché is in inspired form, and the samba infused ”Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea”. Alden and Vaché take flight as a duet on “I’m Confessin’” which was on the very first Django recording that Alden heard.
Anat Cohen is also a guest soloist on this session either on clarinet or unaccredited on soprano sax. In the latter case, she is most effective in a duet with Alden on acoustic guitar on the Django composition “Nuages”. Cohen stays on soprano for the Duke Ellington tune “Jubilee Stomp” where the group really gets into the spirit of the song, driving along in a super-charged reading. Cohen moves over to clarinet on Alden’s warm rendering of the Barney Kessel composition “I Remember Django”. Finally on the Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli tune “Tears” Alden’s mastery of the acoustic guitar comes into full flower and is a proper appreciation to Django.
This disc is an acknowledgement by a modern guitar master to his antecedents.
TrackList: Who Cares?; Up Jumped You With Love; I Remember Django; Jubilee Stomp; Insensiblement; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; Nuages; Bernardo; For Django; Nagasaki; I’m Confessin’ That I Love You; I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles; I’ll See You In My Dreams; Tears.
— Pierre Giroux