From the May/June 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Pat Moran
Another Intriguing Gypsy-Jazz ‘Experiment’
Before beginning live-on-the floor sessions for The Django Experiment V, Stephane Wrembel recorded Django L’Impressionniste, an album-length interpretation of 17 little-known Django Reinhardt solo pieces. The explorations of the Gypsy-jazz master’s more outré excursions seem to have bolstered Wrembel’s risk-taking instincts. “Improvisation #1” benefits most from Wrembel’s deep dive into Reinhardt. Jumping restlessly from a ricocheting two-note figure to bubbling rasgueado strumming, Wrembel’s solo guitar paints an abstract portrait of Gypsy jazz.
A playful jaunt through Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” returns the set to familiar Sinti swing, before the mockingbird cackle of Nick Driscoll’s saxophone triggers Wrembel’s pin-wheeling triplets. By track’s end, breezy string jazz and cacophonous freestyle have battled to a stalemate. Reinhardt’s “Daphne” is an ebullient slipknot shuffle until second guitarist Thor Jensen’s rattlesnake strumming and Daisy Castro’s vortex of witchy violin cue Wrembel’s atonal careening-through-the guardrail guitar. Riding quizzical coils of violin, Reinhardt’s “Nuages” becomes a launching pad for spiraling picking from Wrembel, but it’s a freewheeling run-through of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” that ventures furthest afield. Driscoll’s snake-charmer saxophone and Jensen’s locomotive strumming entwine while Wrembel establishes the tune’s melody, but soon, with cascading triplets and scorpion’s tail vibrato, Wrembel slingshots the quintessential New York City composition out beyond the Kuiper Belt.