Belgian guitarist and saxman Koen de Cauter is a musical style all his own. Whether playing Gypsy jazz, New Orleans swing, flamenco, musette, or the songs of French hero Georges Brassens, de Cauter signs the music with his own signature.
First and foremost, de Cauter often plays music at a slower tempo than most, whether it’s Django Reinhardt’s blazing hot jazz, or a flamenco fandango. His tempo allows de Cauter to emphasize the inherent musicality of a piece, offering a welcome respite from the modern world’s hustle and bustle. His own compositions often ride on bittersweet, melancholy melodies highlighted by Zen-like solos brilliant in their simplicity and creativity.
De Cauter grew up around Gypsies in Belgium, so it comes as little surprise many of his musical endeavors have focused on Gypsy music. In his youth, he played in the famous band of Gypsy violinist Piotto Limberger before creating the stellar Gypsy swing group Waso in 1975 with Gypsy guitarists Fapy Lafertin and Piotto’s son, Vivi. Since then, he has played with avant-garde bandoneonist Dick van der Harst, Patrick Saussois’s Alma Sinti ensemble, and several solo projects.
A Little Corner of Paradise is subtitled “New Orleans Swing,” but includes much more. A re-release of a 1988 album, this CD also includes four tracks from a 1999 session that hints at what the forthcoming volume 2 will include. De Cauter’s Gypsy-fueled guitar licks mix with Orange Kellin’s clarinet and David Paquette’s piano on tunes from “Les Feuilles Mortes” to “Tico-Tico,” French chanson to poignant Cuban jazz. The warm, rich, fun sessions are marred only by singer Topsy Chapman’s overblown vocals on a handful of cuts.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’00 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.