The Hot Club of San Francisco – Yerba Buena Bounce – [TrackList follows] Reference Recordings 200 gram 45 rpm double-vinyl RM-2503  *****:
The band was started by guitarist Paul “Pazzo” Mehling on the advice of a psychic after he had been playing with Dan Hicks and the Acoustic Warriors for five years. Since then they have made ten CDs and this is their first LP edition, which was actually recorded at Fantasy Records’ studio in Berkeley in 2006. They used the large Studio A there and tried to get a full sound similar to that before the age of popular digital recording.
Paul’s lead guitar sometimes duels with violinist Evan Price, with the solid rhythm of the “la pompe” strumming supplied on some numbers by guitarists Jeff Magidson and Jason Vanderford. Ari Munkres on doublebass fills out the drummer-less ensemble. They also brought in mandolin virtuoso David Grissman, who with his Dawg Music recordings sometimes included the input of Django Reinhardt’s music. David is also renowned for first bringing violinist Stephane Grappelli to the United States to give American audiences a hint of the wonders of the famous original Quintet of the Hot Club.
Although the SF Hot Club tries to present a wide spectrum of gypsy jazz, there are a number of Django numbers here: the opening Mystery Pacific, the swinging Black and White, Rhythm Futur, and Improvisation #2. Some tracks are full of that “le pompe” that drives Django’s music — often achieving a minor feeling even though the tune is really in the major, and the Improvisation #2 is a quieter guitar showpiece in crystilline clarity. Sway is a just delightful conversation between the violin and lead guitar. The originals from Mehling fit right into the more dated Gypsy jazz material. The work Lullabye was inspired the psychic who told Paul he should write one—so he did. The title tune of the album was written in homage of San Francisco’s local heros Lu Watters’ Yerba Buena Jazz Band. The San Francisco revival of trad jazz in the 1950s was as strong as the influence of Django’s music. Stardust has a nice laid-back duo of guitar and violinOn the final track big production on Disc 4 of the album, Mehling brought in clarinet, trumpet, trombone and tuba plus his own vocal.
Reference Recordings has gone out of their way to make this double album of special audiophile interest. First, both discs are 200 grams, rather than the usual 180 gram audiophile standard for vinyl reissues. Then each of the four sides ends in a couple minutes of quiet grooves so you won’t have to deal with the noisy swishing at the center label if you don’t jump up immediately at the end of each 45 rpm side.
The good-natured battles between lead guitar and fiddle are heard in nearly all the tracks. It’s a pleasure to hear the musicians so clearly free and unencumbered by misguided current leadership. As the note-writer says “The beauty and joy and swing of this music is infectious!”
Mystery Pacific, Hot Lips, I’m Happy Just to Dance with You, Sway, Number Two, Souvenir de Villingen, Tickle Toe, Black and White, Rhyme Futur, Lullabye, Yerba Buena Bounce, Stardust, Borneo, Georgia Cabin, Improvisation # 2, Some of These Days
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