Thursday, May 03, 2012

Jacob Fischer Trio with Francesco Cali - Django (2011)

2010 was the Centennial of world famous Gypsy guitarist, composer and jazzmusician Django Reinhardt (1910 - 1953). Throughout 2010 a lot of events on the jazz scene paying homage to this icon of the swing era were arranged all around including concerts and recordings by contemporary musicians who are inspired by Django's legacy - we have earlier reviewed a couple of remarkable events, here and here. Django's music continues to inspire and challenge new generations of musicians. Last year the shown album by Danish guitarist Jacob Fischer was added to the stack of noteworthy cd recordings in the tribute to Django category.
Jacob Fischer (b 1967) made his debut at the Copenhagen jazz festival at 17 and has since then been one of the hardest working musicians in Scandinavia. For nearly two decades Fischer has worked with the best Scandinavian musicians as well as with visiting jazz greats. His versatile virtuosity can be heard on more than 150 CDs. Since 1992 Jacob has been a member of violin legend Svend Asmussens quartet and in 2008 he finally decided to release an album in his own name, Jacob Fischer Trio featuring Asmussen. Popular with audiences and critics alike Fischer has recieved numerous awards.
The Django cd is the third recording made by Jacob Fischer under his own name, in 2010 he released his second, 'Blues', a live recording made at Copenhagens oldest jazz venue La Fontaine in May 2010. On all three cds Fischer has chosen the trio format as an ideal setting for his playing. The first cd featuring Svend Asmussen had Hugo Rasmussen (b) and Janus Templeton (dm) as accompanying rhythm, this rhythm section is also featured on the Django cd, however, on some tracks extended with Regin Fuhlendorf on rhythm guitar. The Django cd also features the Sicilian accordionist Francesco Calì as second lead player adding a Mediterranean atmosphere to the music. Francesco Calì is living in Copenhagen and participates occationally in the Copenhagen jazzscene besides having a career as a composer and recording artist, learn more of his background from his official website, click here.
Django Reinhardt started his career as a recording artist in 1928 accompanying various accordion players of Italian origins, later he also made recordings with famous Swing Musette accordionists like Gus Viseur a.o.. Maybe this is the background that has inspired Jacob Fischer to create a contemporary ensemble for his tribute cd that reminds the listener of the formative years of Django's succesfull career? Fact is, however, that this branch of Django's career often has been neglected in favour of his QHCF period, numerous followers of the icon have exclusively set focus on the successful recordings by Django with the QHCF, but why not look up Django's roots in Mediterranean tradition as well? Similar considerations may have inspired Fischer to make his tribute recording reflecting the atmosphere of this almost forgotten branch of Django's career in a contemporary setting featuring new compositions and material from a later period fitting in with the project. - The disc has 15 tracks, seven of them are new compositions by Jacob Fischer. The cd takes off with "Napolitana", an up-tempo Fischer composition named "(...)after the evocative Neapolitan chord which is a minor subdominant with a raised 5th" according to his notes. The tune has great solo spots by both Jacob and accordionist Francesco Calì. This is followed by two more compositions by Fischer, "Metabolic Age" and "Small Teardrop", both in a medium-slow tempo and reflectng a kind of sadness or melancholy, but again very well performed by the ensemble. The fourth track of the disc has a very impressive reading of Modern Jazz Quartet's pianist, John Lewis' famous composition, "Django", written in the year Django died (1953). Next is "Sonho Carioca" by Jacob Fischer, a composition drawing inspiration from Jacob do Bandolim's 'Noites Carioca', together with "Retrato Em Branco e Preto (Zingaro)" by Jobim reflecting Fischer's fascination of Brazilian music, both of which by all means fit perfectly in with the remaining repertoire of the disc. There are three more compositions by Fischer, "Frère Joseph" a tune "(...) dedicated to Djangos brother Joseph who played rhythm guitar in the Hot Club de France – and also a tribute to all the unsung heroes of the rhythm guitar" with addition of Regin Fuhlendorf, who provides a solid Manouche rhythm guitar accompaniment. "Accent Circonflexe" "(...) is not only a linguistic term - in music it represents an accented short note - of which there are plenty in this tune" according to Jacob's notes. "Hugos Howl" is dedicated to and features bass player Hugo Rasmussen as soloist. The remaining tracks are a mixture of modern jazz themes such as Fred Lacey's "Theme For Ernie", Bud Powell's "Parisian Thorughfare" and popular tunes such as "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" (Harburg/Gorney), here performed as an excellent solo guitar piece by Fischer, Nino Rota's "Amarcord" made famous through Fellini's film with this title and providing great playing by accordionist Francesco Calì. The last two tracks of the cd are by Danish popular composers, "Den Allersidste Dans" by Kai Normann Andersen exposing Calì's virtuoisic mastering of his instrument, and finally "Huset På Christianshavn", a TV series theme song by Steen Holkenov, here executed with humour and up-tempo guitar playing by Fischer. - In all, a varied repertoire and high class performance throughout the disc, recommended for the discerning listener and everybody else requesting a relaxing and enjoyable time in good company with good music and great musicians.
The Django cd was released by Gateway Music in 2011 and is available for download in Mp3-format from their online webshop, here, or from iTunes, here.

Unfortunately, I did not find uploaded video examples featuring the ensemble performing at the cd, but to give you an impression of Jacob Fischer's excellent guitar playing, I'll insert a couple of uploaded videos recorded earlier this year featuring Jacob in interplay with fellow guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. - The videos were shot at the 3rd Annual Arbors Invitational Jazz Party where Jacob participated as a featured artist during a tour of the US. The recorded performance was extended to a recording session at Arbors Records and this resulted in a new cd that has just been released, learn more about it at the Arbors website, here. From The 3rd Annual Arbors Invitational Jazz Party Bucky Pizzarelli & Jacob Fischer play Nuages with Nicki Parrott on bass & Ed Metz on drums - enjoy!


From the same show, a marvellous reading of Stardust and Limehouse Blues


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