taking a listen
reviews of local & state music CDs
John Jorgenson — One Stolen Night, Istiqbal Gathering
John Jorgenson was an integral factor in the country chart-topping Desert Rose Band, and is a frequent live collaborator with Earl Scruggs today. One Stolen Night shows off the spellbinding guitar technique that earned him a reputation as one of the greats in a completely different medium — as a master of the nuances and complex rhythms of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz style. On One Stolen Night, Jorgenson doesn’t simply limit himself to guitar. He proves himself a masterful all-around musician, taking on clarinet, soprano sax and bouzouki, all within different contexts, and his tight backing band meets him step for step. It isn’t simply an album of reworked Reinhardt cuts, though his take on “Hungaria” pushes the furious fingerwork into bluegrass territory. There are eight original tunes done in Reinhardt’s inimitable style, four classical reworkings and even an old-time jazz number. Jorgenson take on a few modernist composers are the album’s highlights, most notably Edvard Grieg’s “Norwegian Dance,” which is rendered to its core and infused with a carefree, folksy spirit that hints at Bartok’s largo’d, nationalist tendencies. If Jorgenson is playing the role of Reinhardt, then violinist Jason Anick must be Stephane Grappelli. He takes the lead for “Mediterranean Blues,” while Jorgenson sits back and, frankly, offers little. The album was co-released with another of Jorgenson’s asides, Istiqbal Gathering, this time utilizing a classical orchestra in backing. Those who remember when Phish’s Trey Anastasio took a foray into orchestral conducting might recognize Orchestra Nashville as the vehicle for his experiment, but Jorgenson takes a more active role in these predomiantly classical interpretations. The three-piece suite Concerto Glasso leads off with “Roma Arise,” which, if it sounds like a battle fanfare, know that it’s title is also the slogan used by the World Romany Congress. The suite’s second movement, “Seaside Waltz,” is a gorgeous Spanish jaunt propped up nicely by the depth of the orchestra’s strings. The two albums in their essence pay a fine homage to Reinhardt, but also shows how seamlessly his style can translate into contemporary settings without ever sounding dated.
The John Jorgenson Quintet will perform at the Triad Stage this Friday.
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