Lionel Belmondo Trio Plays European Standards – b Flat DiscographSwing 39 Quartet – Entre deux tours (World Gypsy Jazz) – WGJ

by | Apr 3, 2013 | Jazz CD Reviews

Lionel Belmondo Trio Plays European Standards [TrackList follows] – b Flat Discograph 6149982 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

Swing 39 Quartet – Entre deux tours (World Gypsy Jazz) [TrackList follows] – WGJ 39, 46:10 ****:

(Lionel Belmondo – reeds; Sylvain Romano – doublebass; Laurent Rabin, drums)
(Thierry Di Filippo – guitar & oud; Mickael Sourd – guitars; Laurent Marc – vibes & xylophone; Steeve Denoy – doublebass)

European jazz has in general had a closer relationship with the classical world than in North America. Although some U.S. jazz albums are now beginning to include at least one track improvised around a classical theme, European groups have been doing that sort of thing for years, improvising on classical themes the same as a jazz group would on a pop tune. Though he also has recorded with larger groups, the piano-less Belmondo Trio includes their versions of music by Tchaikovsky, Faure, Schubert, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Wagner and Holst in their new album, following at least three others on the same label.

Belmondo has won several Victoires du Jazz awards. In this disc he reimagines some classical themes, using his sturdy sax, clarinet or flute sounds and eschewing any fancy effects.  But there are also two originals. He’s not afraid to try anything, and without the cover a keyboardist, he has to become a skilled tightrope walker. This is straight-ahead acoustic jazz without special trimmings. His version of Wagner’s music from Tannhauser works much better than that strange Kenton album of all-Wagner arrangements of years ago.

TrackList: Passionate (Brahms), Gercle Mineur, The Love of a Dead Man (Tchaikovsky), Elegie (Faure), Desillusion, Serenade (Schubert), Come Sweet Death (Bach), Prelude (Chopin), Assimilation (Rachmaninov), Song to the Evening Star (Wagner), In the Bleak Midwinter (Holst).


World music influences are finding their way into a variety of other genres lately, and the mix of world music and “jazz manouche” seems like a fine idea. The gypsy jazz mood is still here, especially with the two guitars and one of them often doing the “le pompe” support rhythm. But the addition of the oud on some tracks such as “Marrakech la Folle” and the added vibes or xylophone instead of violin or clarinet give the quartet a distinctive sound. One of the tunes, “Night and Day,” is exactly the sort of number Django would have played, and “Vamp” is one of his own compositions, but most of the other tracks venture a bit further from the Quintet of the Hot Club.

This CD should have wide appeal, and not just to fans of gypsy jazz. The album notes are all in French and the quartet is  based in Toulouse. The design and artwork of the fold-out packaging is most tastefully done.


1. Mojito bossa (T. Di Filippo) 4’31
2. Nico la crise (T. Di Filippo) 3’13
3. Blues des toons (L. Marc) 3’53
4. Entre deux tours (M. Sourd) 5’56
5. Marrakesh la folle (M. Sourd) 3’48
6. Night and day (C. Porter) 3’11
7. Vamp (D. Reinhardt) 2’44
8. Recuerdos de Lucia (T. Di Filippo) 6’07
9. Diego (M. Sourd) 4’01
10. Charlie (T. Di Filippo) 3’59
11.Valse chinoise (J. Colombo/G. Ghestem) 4’43

—John Henry

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