Iris Music | Harmonia Mundi
3001 883 | HM 87
Monster chopsters Romane and Stochelo Rosenberg are two of Gipsy Swing's hottest guitarists -- one from France, one from Holland -- whose previous collaboration Élégance is the album in this metier if you could only have one. Now they return with Double Jeu which couldn't be more aptly named. What's more, the canny cover art of the two smilingly engrossed in a chess match perfectly captures the spirit of strategic playfulness that provides the foundation for the entire album.
Where Élégance remained stylistically tethered to the Django Reinhardt milieu, Double Jeu cuts the strings. Largely responsible for this freedom are the contributions of Stéphane Hurchard on percussion and the phenomenal Marc-Michel Le Bevillon on double bass. Though including relaxed swing interludes like "Nature Boy", the majority of this outing is unbelievably charged. Titles like "R' N Bis", "Bop Tension", "All Jazz" and "Black Mamba" indicate the super-virtuoso realms of rapier blade work whereby the protagonists engage each other like the ablest of swashbucklers who cut a swath through the enemy ranks of mediocrity and predictability.
With plenty of embedded double entendres reflecting back on Élégance, Double Jeu engages both heart and mind. While your body is spontaneously bopping along, your head has a hard time staying on the ball of inventiveness whereby the two here trade sides. If this were a major motion picture with two headline stars, Holly wood be raving about high-octane chemistry between the leading man and lady. Double Jeu accomplishes the same without any sex and violence. And while there's no shortage of technical brilliance, it's never gratuitous. In fact, the most potent attribute of all is sheer playfulness, seeing how far the envelope can be pushed. Call it loose and pushy then. Put this album on the very top of your list if you love swing guitar and want to learn the byways and highways which Django's most intelligent successors frequent these days. There's more creativity stuffed into Double Jeu than most artists manage over five - and these guys have done it once already. Incroyable!