Based on what happened on Saturday night, it’s probably safe to say that a little bit of Lockerbie now belongs to Django a la Creole, the hugely popular jazz group which – as its star soloist Evan Christopher explained – “plays a Django Reinhardt tune and adds New Orleans flavours or takes a New Orleans tune and Django-ises it”.
Right from the off, the quartet – Christopher on clarinet plus the traditional Hot Club line-up of two guitars plus bass – had the audience utterly in its thrall and going wild after every tune. The spell was cast during the opening number, Douce Ambience, on which the Christopher clarinet started out soft and tender, slow and seductive before bursting into a fiery flight of passionate fancy.
Christopher never gives the spell a chance to be broken. Even when he wasn’t in the spotlight, and the super-dextrous lead guitarist David Blenkhorn was taking centre stage, the energetic Christopher was quietly wrapping his clarinet around the guitar solo. He came over as a bit of a musical snake charmer, dancing about onstage while playing a sinewy-sounding solo during Mamanita and faux-baiting Blenkhorn on the exuberant Riverboat Shuffle.
In addition to many tunes from the band’s two existing CDs, there were some new treats which may well feature on a live album to be recorded at the end of this British tour (the Scottish portion of which they have dubbed “The Road to Carnegie Hall … Dunfermline”). These included the evocative Sweet Substitute, which Christopher sang, a glorious That’s a Plenty and The Mooche, which hasn’t been played by such a menacing and thrilling clarinet since Kenny Davern’s day.
* First published in The Scotsman on Monday, October 1st.
Evan Christopher (clarinet), David Blenkhorn and Dave Kelbie (guitars) & Sebastian Girardot (bass)
Solid Old Man
Manoir de mes reves
That’s a Plenty