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Surfin’ Djangos – Go Man Go!

 

It’s doubtful Django Reinhardt ever caught a wave to sit on top of the world. But as these two new CDs prove, Django’s music proves ideal for a surfing safari.

Both collections of Gypsy jazz-inspired surf music take Django in different directions. And both are way cool.

Neil Andersson is one of the founders of Pearl Django, the Seattle-area Gypsy jazz band that is one of the godfathers of the American renaissance of Django’s music. Joining forces with Peter Pendras, the duo return to their own roots playing good ol’ American surf.

Malibu Manouche is “The Girl from Ipanema” meets the Beach Boys. Some tunes, such as the title track, are acoustic surf jazz as Jobim might have imagined it. Riding a mellow curve, it’s stylish and airy.

When Andersson and Pendras go electric, they retain that same sunshine-infused sound. Covers of classics like “Pipeline,” “Walk, Don’t Run,” and even Brian Wilson and Mike Love’s “Surfer Girl” ode all come alive in a West Coast jazz groove.

The Surfin’ Djangos, on the other hand, go for pure Dick Dale. In fact, the CD’s back-cover photo features Django with The Beast – Dale’s sparkle-gold lefty Stratocaster – superimposed in his hands. And somehow it looks just right.

Go Man GO! is glorious reverb and twang. And as the band advises, “Play it loud!”

Bandleader/lead guitarist Archtop Eddy is a confirmed Djangologist, but he’s not afraid to have fun. This “All-American Salute to the Music of Django Reinhardt” is one of the most unique discs of Gypsy jazz anywhere.

And Django’s music hits the surfing curl just right. The band recasts a score of the master’s music, and the results are perfect. Django’s “Swing 42″ becomes “Surf 42,” speeded up, soaked in reverb, backed by drums and bass, and it could have been a highlight of the Ventures’ songlist. The Surfin’ Djangos do the same with “Troublant Boléro” as “Troublant Camaro” and “Manoir de mes rves” as “Django’s Castle Made of Sand.”

Archtop Eddy’s guitar playing – in both Gypsy jazz and surfing idioms – is hot stuff. And even though the band hails far from any ocean in Colorado (hey, the Ventures never surfed either), these guys have got it nailed.



This article originally appeared in VG‘s Apr ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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