French Gypsy jazz guitarist Dorado Schmitt reigns as one of the elder statesmen of the genre. He’s a regular on the Paris jazz scene, as well as touring far and wide – including a recent American tour in honor of Django’s centenary.
This new disc may just be his masterpiece… so far. He has released a number of winners stretching back several decades, highlighting his guitar work, singing, and violin playing.
But Family is special because Schmitt is joined by his children on guitar, including Amati, Bronson, and Samson (who has also released several albums of his own). In addition, his brother-in-law and master rhythm guitarist, Hono Winterstein, lends licks along with his son, Brady. That’s six guitarists, all in the family.
Amazingly, this family is in time with each other across generations, especially when it comes to music. Dorado’s leads are inventive and dashing, as always, played on a Selmer-style acoustic recorded warm and large in sound. The wall of rhythm behind him is spot-on, never overpowering, often creative – and always perfectly mixed.
Playing counterpoint to the guitars is accordionist Marcel Loeffler, himself a master of styles from Gypsy jazz to musette to nuevo tango. He may be at his best on slow tunes such as Dorado’s own “For Grappelli,” where he plays long, languorous lines. But on the quick-tempo swing tunes, his virtuous swing is infectious and stunning.
Almost half the songs here are by Dorado, including the gorgeous “Gozes Waltz,” penned for his wife, and the romping “Miro Django.” But the classics like Eddie Durham’s “Topsy” and “J’Attendrai” are also alive with a furious intensity.
Perhaps only a family of musicians could play so well together. Family proves the Schmitt clan is a Gypsy jazz force to be reckoned with.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Jul. ’10 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.