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Echoes of Django

Du Hot Club de Concord
Du Hot Club de Concord
By The Charlie Byrd Quintet

Concord Records: 1995

This review first appeared in the December 8, 1995 issue of the North County Times.

This is a tribute to the legendary Django Reinhardt, whom guitarist Charlie Byrd met in Paris as an American GI during World War II. As the liner notes make clear, this is not a typical tribute: the songs are not by, or even particularly associated with, the late Belgian gypsy who revolutionized jazz guitar in the 1930s and '40s.

Instead, this is a tribute in that the arrangements and playing are quite similar to what Reinhardt brought to the music. The all-string and harmonica combo is similar to many of Reinhardt's own bands.

And influenced as it has been for many years by his immersion in Brazilian forms, Byrd's own playing has an inherent Latin lilt that reminds of Reinhardt's style. Throw in the chromatic harp of Hendrik Meurkens and you have, oddly enough, a Brazilian-jazz jam that evokes the memory of a European jazz pioneer who also eschewed musical boundaries in exploring his own music.