Django Festival AllStars: Attitude Manouche
For the past 18 years, at the venerable jazz club Birdland, the Django Reinhardt New York Festival has honored the contribution of the Gypsy guitar legend. Then, this past May, the concept moved into a larger venue, Carnegie Hall, where guitarist Dorado Schmitt, who’s helmed the show all along, was joined by younger members of his family intent on keeping the tradition going. Attitude Manouche is the first studio release by the next-generation group, calling itself the Django Festival AllStars and led by guitarist Samson Schmitt, Dorado’s son. (The group also features strings, accordion, guitar and double bass.) The first thing you notice when surveying the track list is that there isn’t a single tune written by Django Reinhardt. In fact, save for one, John Williams’ theme from Schindler’s List , the entire collection consists of original numbers written by the band members— the idea here was never to mimic Django, a fool’s game anyway, but rather to take his ideas into the present day. That’s not to imply this music isn’t Django-esque. Schmitt’s style, like his father’s, owes directly to the band’s namesake, and it’s evident in every tune, from the swift picking of the title track to the lazy-day ballads like “Nocturne.” Samson Schmitt is the band’s star, but each player is a whiz, as evidenced by the accordion and violin showcases that populate much of “Around Toots” and the thrilling orchestration of the Williams cover.