Can a band with nine releases in just a dozen years delve deep into new musical ground while staying true to their school? The Hot Club of San Francisco has done just that with Postcards from Gypsyland.
Django Reinhardt-inspired Gypsy-swing - with acoustic guitars and violin as the prime movers - is still the heart and soul of the HCSF. And this band is one of the few Hot Club-style groups in the U.S. who truly deliver on the promise of the name. (Their moniker is a nod to Reinhardt's original Quintette du Hot Club de France.) Postcards from Gypsyland includes ample evidence of the band's love of the genre, as you can hear on their rendition of Reinhardt's own "Spivy," as well as the band's original tunes such as "Lover's Leap" and "Not So Fast." HCSF bandleader Paul Mehling even took the bold step of setting original lyrics to Reinhardt's best-known composition "Nuages" (appearing here as "Theme from Gypsyland").
However, Postcards from Gypsyland opens the Gypsy-swing aperture a little wider to let in new colors and new textures. "Jonesin'" augments the classic Hot Club quintet sound with the addition of a swinging string quartet, with exhilarating results. The enchanting "Alle Prese con una Verde Milonga" (by Italian singer Paolo Conte) features an even larger string orchestra.
There are smaller, more intimate moments on Postcards from Gypsyland as well. Reinhardt's lovely "Manoir de Mes Rêves," for example, is deftly delivered via two unaccompanied acoustic guitars - with Mehling on baritone and wunderkind Sam Miltich on regular 6-string. The HCSF foregoes the usual string-rich Hot Club quintet setting again on "Melodie au Crepuscule," opting instead for focused finesse.
Postcards from Gypsyland is at once a tribute to the sound and style of Gypsy-swing guitarist Django Reinhardt and an original artistic statement. The Hot Club of San Francisco asks - and answers - its own questions about how period music can be expanded in all directions to include new shades of excitement, romance, drama, and humor, without ever marring the integrity of the music's original design. It's a safe bet that the master himself would approve.
Key Selling Points:
* CD produced by Adam Levy (Norah Jones' guitarist)
* National Press Mailing of 300 CDs
* Lots of concerts and festival appearances in 2005
* Available for In-stores