If you like gypsy jazz and you haven’t heard The Robin Nolan Trio, you should. Solo guitarist Nolan is joined by rhythm guitarist Jan P. Brouwer and bassist Paul Meader on Swings & Roundabouts (CD RNT3), the third CD from this fine Amsterdam-based band. Robin is an exceptional improviser which you can hear on each and every one of the 12 tracks on this CD. There are, naturally, Django Reinhardt covers, original compositions and pop/swing standards. A delightful version of “Django’s Tiger” kicks things off. This is a real toe tapper. I like the tasty chords that start and end this one and I also like Robin’s solo, which quotes the “Tiger Rag” in one spot. “Tea For Two” has an intro and an ending that borrows from Bireli Lagrene’s version of “C’est Si Bon” (on Bireli’s Standards CD). The overall pace on this one is wonderfully relaxed but there is an ebb and flow. Gershwin’s “Oh! Lady be Good” is perfectly lively. Robin’s solo begins with just rhythm guitar backing. The bass joins in and even gets a little slap work in at the 3:00 minute mark. “Minor Swing” (whose main melody isn’t all that obvious at times) features Robin playing a solo with double stops and chords and plenty of ‘out’ single notes. There’s a bluesy feel to this whole arrangement and I like it. The band is also fond of latin sounds and rhythms, heard to great effect on the Nolan original “Luna Tango.” Percussionist Nema Lopes backing adds substantially to this one. “Tony’s Tune” is a short composition (run time is 1:45) that features Robin on solo acoustic guitar. (I bet this one would sound great on an electric too.) Kudos to Mikel Le Roy for the exceptionally fine sound/mix. The band has three other CD’s available: Robin Nolan Trio, Street and The Latin Affair .
This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.