Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bireli Lagrene - Sylvain Luc - Duet (1999)

It’s almost too easy to tag a pair of French guitarists with the Django Reinhardt label, but in the case of Sylvain Luc and Bireli Lagrene’s beautiful new Duet, there are moments when the tag is wonderfully accurate. Throughout a swinging rendition of Reinhardt’’s “Douce Ambiance” and the classic “Stompin’’ at the Savoy,” Luc and Birelli display an affinity for the legendary French jazzman’’s subtle swing and Gypsy modalities that goes well beyond a mere copycat gesture. The pair are equally masterful in turning pop songs like Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time” and Stevie Wonder’’s “Isn’’t She Lovely” into gorgeous jazz balladry. Luc and Lagrene play off one another with an almost telepathic ease, and their delicate rapport lights up the pared-down instrumentation of two acoustic guitars, whether they’re getting subtly funky on Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” or fingerpicking through the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” Jazz guitar aficionados may find some of Duet reminiscent of John McLaughlin, Al Dimeola, and Paco de Lucia’s hugely popular Friday Night in San Francisco. Duet’’s appeal comes from making masterfully rendered, stripped-down music that shines. --Ezra Gale, Editorial Reviews Amazon.com

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