Nominated "Best New Release - Traditional Jazz" and "Best Emerging Artist - Traditional Jazz" by OffBEAT Magazine, 2003.
Beautiful melodies, sparkling arrangements and adventurous improvisation have become the Hot Club's signatures. Live performances are propelled by thorough preparation coupled with adventurous presentation. Each musician is encouraged to explore the warmth and intimacy that is unique to his instrument and artistic temperament, all the while fostering a spirit of musical dialogue and cooperation. All highly accomplished players in their own right, each member of HCNO chooses to eschew their individual self interest in deference to the beauty of the song itself, thereby deliberately allowing the compositions to drive the performance.
"Hot and Modern" - Mark Fowler; OffBeat, June,2003.
"Why aren't these guys famous yet? The Hot Club excels at generating that warm, swinging drive that Django Reinhardt was famous for and at the dame time transcends the idiom by eschewing blind obedience to stylistic conventions; in other words the solos are modern, kids. They play with a somewhat laid-back yet exuberant groove, typical of New Orleans; yet they are so tight and swinging, their solos so driving, at times they seem almost superhuman..."
To read a recent interview with the Hot Club's clarinetist Christopher Kohl for the global online arts and entertainment magazine "g21", simply go to http://www.g21.net.
Check out the feature article on the Hot Club in the Sept. 2002 issue of Kingfish Magazine.
Gambit Weekly. 02 July,2002
Hot Seven: Best Bets of the Week [02 July - 08 July]
By: Scott Jordan
With a name that pays homage to Django Reinhart and Stephane Grapelli's legendary, it's no surprise that the Hot Club of New Orleans plays spirited gypsy jazz, with violinist Matt Rhody playing Grapelli to the Reinhart-isms of guitarists Matt Johnson and David Mooney. The band honed its craft with a regular Monday night gig at the Circle Bar, and its new eponymous CD is a winsome snapshot of the band's instrumental prowess. Clarinetist Christopher Kohl is every bit the lyrical player of his bandmates, soaring in the spry tandem lines of Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop", while the band delivers nifty and unpretentious covers of the standards "I'll See You In My Dreams" and "Teach Me Tonight." The CD ends with the unexpected cover of Muddy Waters' "Little Brown Bird", transformed into a dreamy ballad floats on the steady pulse of Peter Harris' bass lines.
Where Y'at. June, 2002
Where Ya Rockin'?
By: Rob Cambre
"[With their] sizzling strings, the Hot Club of New Orleans is at the top of their game in the New Orleans music scene."
The New Orleans Times Picayune. 31 May, 2002
Sound Advice: Our Guide to the Week's Best Bets.
By: Keith Spera
By keeping things simple, the Hot Club of New Orleans manages a sublime sort of communication on its self-titled debut. Violinist Matt Rhody, clarinetist Christopher Kohl, Guitarists Jersey Matt Johnson and David Mooney, and bassist Peter Harris eschew overcrowded arrangements and most amplification in favor of their instruments' natural timbre, an easy camaraderie and an innate sense of swing. The disc opens up with Harris' bass anchoring a romp through Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop." Johnson's unpolished vocal on "I'll See You In My Dreams" is in keeping with the unpretentious nature of the project. Clarinet and violin harmonize on the singsong melody of "Star Eyes." Throughout, the players ignore distinctions between "modern," "traditional," "hot," and Eastern European "gypsy" jazz, sampling from each as they skillfully weave a sound all their own.
Where Y'at. May, 2002.
Festival Picks: The New Cool
By: Rob Cambre, Michael Dominici and Dan Gilbert
The Hot Club of New Orleans started out as a small combo that hit the scene on the heels of the local nouveau swing revival, which includes such popular acts as Johnny Angel, Ingrid Lucia and the Flyin' Neutrinos and others. They have a great sound and style that is heavy on the rhythm and light on the feet.
The New Orleans Times Picayune. 11 January, 2002.
Sound Advice: Our Guide to the Week's Best Bets.
By: Keith Spera
The five members of the Hot Club of New Orleans believe that less is more when it comes to jazz. By eschewing electronic amplification and drums, bassist Peter Harris, guitarists David Mooney and Jersey Matt Johnson, violinist Matt Rhody and clarinetist Christopher Kohl are able to play up the subtleties of their acoustic instruments and the intimate interaction possible when rendering traditional jazz, swing and melodies from Eastern Europe and South America. The band's live sets draw from the songbooks of Harold Arlen, Dizzy Gillespie, Cole Porter and Django Reinhart. On a new, self-titled CD the members of the Club ease through a program of eight classics in a quietly seductive medley of violin, clarinet, acoustic guitar and bass.
Hot Club of New Orleans
Debut Self-Titled Release
Released 25 April, 2002
The New Orleans Times Picayune recently said of the Hot Club's membership that "... [They] ignore distinctions between 'modern,' 'traditional,' 'hot,' and Eastern European 'gypsy' jazz, sampling from each as they skillfully weave a sound of their own." This is clearly demonstrated throughout their debut release, where they are unfettered by musical preservationism in every aspect of production and engineering. The result is a surprisingly fresh program of classics and originals, which are at the same time raw and elegant, daring and calculated, complex and unpretentious.
The absence of a drummer is perhaps one of the most daunting challenges that face a group of this nature. Bassist Peter Harris and guitarists David Mooney and Jersey Matt Johnson do not disappoint - in fact, the listener wouldn't even notice the omission if the result wasn't so captivating. The rhythm section's prowess is a hook to the jaw, especially on Bebop and Palestina, where, as noted art critic Donald Waits points out in the liner notes to this release "...Peter Harris' solid and inventive bass playing provides the incorruptible foundation of their swing." Mr. Mooney's sense of time and technique when playing rhythm guitar often give the illusion of a stick pattern on the side of a snare drum. Freddy Green would be proud. Add Johnson's bold strokes of color and refined ornamentation, and the trio functions like a precision machine, at times a locomotive really, hurtling toward a new place in the way that rhythm sections function. On the unlikely ballad "Little Brown Bird", Mooney and Johnson spread out and float upon the unwavering strength of Harris' bass lines. Johnson's vocal work on the number is startlingly honest, intimate and direct.
The program begins with Dizzy Gillespie's quintessential burner, "Bebop." Clarinetist Christopher Kohl and violinist Matt Rhody dazzle the listener with surgical execution of blazing lines, both unison and harmonized. Their control of dynamics and articulation bespeak a musical pair finely tuned to one another's personal idiosyncrasies and to those of their respective instruments. Note the continuity of ideas as solos change hands while showcasing the contrast of artistic temperaments within the group as a whole. Quite an illustrative example occurs in the segue between guitar solos on the Cahn - DePaul chestnut "Teach Me Tonight", which is also a fine example of Johnson's knack for employing subtle harmonies and lyricism in his arrangements heard throughout this recording.
Two original compositions appear on this date, Kohl's "Buns and Mustard" and Mooney's "Moon Song." Not only do they underscore the aesthetic dichotomy of the record, but highlight the individuality and broad influences which are at play in the H.C.N.O. "Moon Song", ethereal and plaintive, rides the crests and falls of fantasy, projection, expectation, and disillusion - arriving near the end of the form at a beacon of hope. Mooney explains that at the time he wrote it he was "... heavily under the influence of cheap booze, lost love and the music of Wayne Shorter." Kohl's tune is a charming and humorous number on which he features the bass clarinet because, in his own words: "... [Bass clarinet] can have joviality, a playfulness that I adore. Makes me think of Dr. Seuss,' which somehow seemed appropriate for this tune - it's childlike in way, with an adult wrinkle."
The recording process itself played a pivotal role in the unique quality that this recording has. The Hot Club sought a recording that would: (1) capture their live sound as accurately as possible while (2) achieving an unexpected sonic quality. Master engineers Ethan Allen and Andrew Gilchrist agreed to do the project. Both are experts at capturing acoustic sound and have a vast combined experience, having recorded albums by such diverse groups as: U2, Ani DiFranco, The Iguanas, Soul Asylum and Erika Luckett, to name a few. The Hot Club felt that by getting the best engineers from outside the "jazz" world, it would reduce preconceptions and increase creativity on everyone's part.
On that blustery March day, Mrs. Gilchrist and Allen were amid construction of their new ninth ward New Orleans studio (having been forced to move from their previous home when Daniel Lanois closed his King's Way Studio). Murphy's Law was being enforced at zero tolerance - tremendous thunder rattled the window panes, power saws and sanders screamed outside, and the departing tenants on the other side of the shotgun house in which the recording was made dragged sofas across the floors on the other side of the wall. Amazing it is that none of the extraneous noise was picked up on the tapes. To postpone the date was out of the question. Rescheduling could take at least a month, and having just been invited to perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a viable recording was necessary. So the Club did what they do night after night - set up in whatever space they're given and go for it. When asked about the unforgiving recording environment, bassist Harris laughs and says "I like it like that. The studio can be such an unrealistic environment because it's so controlled. We're used to people making noise, drunks falling on to the stage, fights breaking out...I don't know if we'd play the same without it. It makes you have to focus that much harder all the time, and keeps you attached to the moment - which the music needs to stay relevant."
"...Kohl played beautifully all night, but he was especially good on the Perrine-penned ballad 'Auz'..."Offbeat, 09/2001