Here’s a look at the latest album releases.
Pearl Django, ‘Time Flies’ (Modern Hot)
Seattle’s hot jazz quintet Pearl Django long ago moved past Django Reinhardt tributes, putting its own twist on old material as well as writing new tunes of considerable merit. On the band’s excellent new album, its 12th, all but one of the tracks are originals and the lone standard is a classic bossa nova.
Executed with svelte ensemble precision and dappled with fleet solos, the album bristles with friendly good cheer. Most of the tunes are taken at a pretty good clip (hence the title?) chugging with Django’s signature four-four drive, an orchestral sound achieved with two acoustic guitars and bass. Guitarists Troy Chapman and Ryan Hoffman swap leads.
Standouts include Hoffman’s crisply arranged “Djangolatry,” an arpeggiated riff that showcases its composer’s hard-edge attack and hefty tone, and Lange’s tricky tango, “Grisology,” a fine tune, as is bassist Rick Leppanen’s “Something Borrowed,” which features call-and-answer guitar and violin and another smart Hoffman solo.
The tempo ebbs on violinist Michael Gray’s pretty “Waltz for 12,” with cello added for texture; Gray delineates the whimsical “A Supinator in Italia” with pizzicato élan, as accordionist Dave Lange gambols and ripples through a solo.
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The album closes with a two-parter on Luis Bonfa’s “Black Orpheus,” Chapman laying out the tune in lyrical rubato, followed by the band playing in bossa time.
With all its fine solo work, this album would have benefited from guitar soloist IDs for the tracks, but that is a minor flaw in what is a dandy addition to this treasured Seattle band’s catalog.
(NOTE: Pearl Django performs in Seattle at Jazz Alley Monday, April 27).
Paul de Barros
Other new releases
Charlie Parr, “Stumpjumper” (Red House)
Blur, “The Magic Whip” (Warner Bros/Parlophone)
Zac Brown Band, “JEKYLL + HYDE” (Republic)