With Yerba Buena Bounce, its tenth album, The Hot Club of San Francisco confirms its reputation as America’s longest-running and finest Gypsy Jazz ensemble. Inspired explorations of Django Reinhardt’s tunes, originals and more, are captured in shimmering HiRes sound.
The Hot Club of San Francisco is a quintet of accomplished and versatile musicians who celebrate Django Reinhardt’s and Stephane Grappelli’s renowned Hot Club de France. The ensemble borrows the all-string instrumentation of three guitars, violin and bass from the original Hot Club, but breathes new life into the music with innovative arrangements of classic tunes and original compositions from the group’s superb lead guitarist, Paul Mehling. Hearing the ensemble takes the listener back to the 1930s and to the small, smoky jazz clubs of Paris. The music of The Hot Club of San Francisco has entranced audiences around the globe for more than a decade.
Mandolinist David Grisman, father of Dawg music and good friend of The Hot Club, makes a special guest appearance on two tracks. The set is further enhanced by bandoneon virtuoso Seth Asarno, and two bonus tracks feature the quintet augmented by three Dixieland horns!
Recorded by multi-Grammy-nominated Prof. Keith Johnson at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, the Yerba Buena Bounce sessions benefited from the historic ambience, scene of hundreds of classic jazz and rock recordings. Using his own custom-built microphones and electronics (as always), Johnson was able to utilize some of Fantasy’s unique facilities, such as a legendary echo chamber, to add luster to his always life-like soundscapes.
The Hot Club of San Francisco
Evan (Zeppo) Price, Violin
Paul (Pazzo) Mehling, Solo Guitar
Jeff Magidson & Jason Vanderford, Rhythm Guitars
Ari Munkres, Bass
David Grisman, Mandolin
Seth Asarno, Bandoneon
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:04:28
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||April 21, 2023|
The Hot Club of San Francisco is more than a tribute band re-creating the recordings of Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and the Quintette du Hot Club de France. The group covers pieces from many different eras never performed by the group which inspired them.
On their tenth album, Yerba Buena Bounce, the Hot Club of San Francisco, which has identical instrumentation to the French group (lead guitar, violin, two rhythm guitars and a bass), leader Paul Mehling, violinist Evan Price and the rhythm section swing like mad in their updated treatment of the QHCF’s speeding locomotive represented by “Mystery Pacific” and the brisk, chugging “Black and White.”
But they also successfully convert modern pop songs into gypsy swing material, such as the Beatles’ ballad “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” (adding Seth Asarnow on bandoneon) and Norman Gimbel’s “Sway” (which adds mandolin master David Grisman).
Mehling proves himself as a composer as well, contributing the upbeat “Number Two” and the tender “Lullaby” (the latter adding both Asarnow and Grisman). If that’s not enough, Mehling adds campy vocals to “Gong Oh” and “Some of These Days.”
Fans of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli owe it to themselves to investigate these swinging, beautifully recorded sessions by the Hot Club of San Francisco. Gypsy swing is very much alive in their hands!
Sound Stage Network
Yerba Buena Bounce is the Hot Club of San Francisco’s tenth disc of Parisian-style swing, and like its predecessor, Postcards From Gypsyland, it is a tribute to the music Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli made famous more than 70 years ago. It is also a reminder that this joyous style of music is timeless and, in the right hands, exciting and fresh. Guitarist Paul Mehling has obviously studied Reinhardt’s solos carefully, but he doesn’t merely echo his inspirer, even on the four Reinhardt tunes the group covers here. He carries Django’s musical legacy forward by bringing his own ideas to it and by choosing interesting material, such as the Beatles’ “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You.”
Mehling calls the music “Gypsy Jazz” and helps keep it alive by writing tunes to add to its tradition. But it is as an improviser that he leaves his strongest impression. His solos are dazzling and quick, yet he plays ballads with a delicate touch. The band’s violinist, Evan Price, matches Mehling for virtuosity and inventiveness, as does mandolin great David Grisman, who guests on two tunes.
The liner notes to Yerba Buena Bounce include two pages of recording details by the album’s engineer, Keith O. Johnson. His hard work paid off. The instruments are clearly defined in the soundstage, they resonate warmly in the room where they were recorded, and you can hear each instrument’s distinctive tone. Yerba Buena Bounce is an impressive addition to the Hot Club of San Francisco’s 15-year history.
Which audience will enjoy Yerba Buena Bounce more? Fans of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli or devotees of David Grisman’s “dawg” music? It’s a tossup, no doubt, but certainly mandolinist Grisman’s two cameos here should be enough to entice some of his followers to explore what the latest release by the Hot Club of San Francisco holds.
No matter. Even before Grisman makes his first appearance, adding some Mediterranean zest to “Sway,” the Hot Club has already moved from a propulsive arrangement of Reinhardt and Grappelli’s “Mystery Pacific” to an Argentine-tinted take on Lennon and McCartney’s “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” that features Seth Asamo on bandoneón.
Grisman returns several tracks later, along with Asamo, to lend a melancholy air to “Lullabye,” a ballad composed by Hot Club guitarist Paul Mehling. Most of the tunes, however, stem from the swing era, and Mehling’s affinity for Django’s touch and repertoire couldn’t be more obvious on the pieces written or co-written by the late guitarist, which include “Black and White,” “Improvisation #2” and “Rhythme Futur,” also a terrific showcase for violinist Evan Price.
The Hot Club’s guitar triumvirate-Mehling on lead, and Jeff Magidson and Jason Vanderford on rhythm-and bassist Ari Munkres make for a formidable juggernaut, unless they’re in a mellow mood, as when infusing “Stardust” with a soft glow. Capping the session are two bonus tracks that find the Hot Club, with Mehling on vocals, collaborating in a Dixieland setting with clarinetist Bill Carter, Marc Caprone and trombonist-tubist Clint Baker.
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