To wonderful acclaim, this album is released from the Islands of Hawaii. It is Gypsy Jazz and a musical travelogue. It picks up on the strain in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown" and has Django Reinhardt - the great Gypsy guitar virtuoso - going AWOL from his Duke Ellington American Tour in 1946 and going to the South Pacific and ending up in Waikiki, Hawaii. Along the way, he influences everything, the music of everywhere, such is his charisma and mastery.
The album has great guest artists in Paul Mehling from the Hot Club of San Francisco, and Gonzalo Bergara from The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet. So hot guitars, bandoneon and great violin will greet you and take you around the world.
Also... meet Ginai.
She sings in Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian, English, Hawaiian, and Tahitian. And swings in every one of them.
This album is a keeper.
We highly recommend getting the physical CD package as well as the music. The artwork and swag that are included in this album is unprecedented. Remember liner notes? This is a veritable museum of stuff! Yes stuff. Django's passport. A starstruck teenager's love letter to Django. Newspaper clippings..
An excerpt from the Waikiki Gazette from January 23, 1947:
LYNN COOK on assignment,
Dateline: Honolulu – January 23, 1946– Reporters and bystanders flocked to the water’s edge on Waikiki Beach get a closer look at someone who might be a world-renowned celebrity. Dapper in a linen suit, the mustachioed mystery man strolled down the beach ahead of the crowd. Was it Rudolph Valentino, Gilbert Roland, or possibly Errol Flynn? Pausing for a moment, he gave a casual salute to a beach beauty, turned quickly and was gone from view. A musician at the Mai Tai Bar called out, "It’s Django Reinhardt!"
The hero of Gypsy Jazz! Could it be? Others ran up the path on the right. This intrepid reporter jumped the fence and headed to the cool darkness of the arched portico. There he was, back turned to the sun. With a long list of questions racing through my mind, approaching with trepidation, I asked, "may I have a moment?" Never turning my way he answered, "yes, a moment in time."
Q. What brings you to the islands?
A. "I’ve been on tour with Duke Ellington. We played New York. Carnegie Hall. It was a dream compared to the stress of Paris during the war years. Life was harder than most for the Romanies, the Gypsies. I grew up in the Gypsy camps at the Paris gates, playing a bit of violin and a banjo-guitar. My band mates stayed in England when the war came. I felt the need to go back to Paris.
Today, I am looking out at paradise!" As he gestures with his left hand toward the ocean and glittering sand, I see two fingers are curled tight. I remembered the amazing story of the fire and his miraculous recovery. At the age of 18 he saved the life of his wife when their caravan went up in flames. Badly burned, he nearly lost his leg and could only use his two curled fingers for chord work.
Q. Do you know the Hot Club of Hulaville?
A. "Aha, yes. Zee Hawaiian Hot Club stars of the hula world. I knew nothing until now. I only knew our Hot Club. A band mate once brought that small plinky instrument to Europe. Ukulele I think you call it. I did not know of the magical sound of your music, the caressing warmth of your island and the beauty of your girls! Zee Hot Club boys play their hearts out, just like home!" He pulls out a photo of Ginai and taps his heart. "Now, there is a singer. A real chanteuse! French, English, Spanish, Tahitian, Portugese and Hawaiian – all these languages she sings in, perfectly!" With a slightly smitten, far-away look he waxes poetic about introducing Paris to Ginai.
Q. Do you know of Hawaiian food?
A. "They brought poi. Bee-utiful. And, raw fish! I wanted to make a small fire outside on my patio, like I did at the caravan. The fish needed to be smoked! I’m a fisherman, you know. The hotel said no. A real shame, it looked like good fish. Coconut meat and pineapple are nice. And, something called Okolehao? Ummmm, smooth and sweet."