Tales From the Hot Club is an apt title for this album of Gypsy jazz from British guitarist Andy MacKenzie. In these selections, he offers a history of jazz manouche old and new, its roots and its current innovations. And at the same time, this history lesson gives him wings to unleash some dazzling chops and stylish licks.
For years, MacKenzie has toured the U.K. with violinist Chris Hayward, playing clubs, festivals, and weddings. Teamed with guitarist/guitar historian Adrian Ingram, he released his first CD, Duet, in 1996.
This latest disc features MacKenzie on his seven-string Benedetto electric archtop and a John le Voi Selmer copy. He’s joined by John Jorgenson, sometimes Hellecaster, Elton John guitarist, and longtime Gypsy swing aficionado. Ingram also appears on several cuts, along with accordionist Norman Bolton.
The history stretches back to Django Reinhardt’s early musette waltz, “Montagne Sainte-Genevieve,” an old-style song the master never recorded. Moving forward in time, MacKenzie and Jorgenson trade licks on Django’s great “Swing 42,” a classic of Reinhardt’s later compositions.
From there, they romp through jazz standards such as Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” and several MacKenzie and Ingram originals that bring Gypsy jazz into the ’90s, including “Tombeau de Grappelli,” a tribute to Django’s fellow innovator and musical foil.
This CD is an accomplished album of past and future jazz manouche that all Gypsy swing fans will enjoy. You can order a copy from Just Jazz Guitar magazine, PO Box 76053, Atlanta, GA 30358-1053.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’98 issue.