If the previous album of the Rosenberg/Romane duo was already the gypsy swing album you should own,.. well, just add one more to your collection of must haves. This album is a CD and a DVD. To start with the DVD, enjoy it in your 2.0 HT. This versatile disc is crammed with a 52-minute film on the duo, giving ample background. Then there’s a 6-minute documentary on the guitar. This guitar 101 is mandatory for all music lovers. Lastly, there is a 35-minute live concert. It's not often that a bonus DVD adds much of interest or relevance over a music CD yet this one does - without adding significantly to the expected CD-only price.
The CD offers 12 tracks of which 11 were recorded live in Montpellier and thetitle track from their last album, "Double Jeu", in La Cigale/Paris. Where the previous CD (that you must have in your collection, remember?) was played by a quartet, this live recording omits the percussionist . Here it is bassist Marc-Michel Le Bevillon alone who accompanies Stochelo and Romane. [In, fact, this duo's first outing, Elegance, is another absolute must-have - Ed.].
The trio context adds intimacy and freedom. Percussion can be very invasive whereas an upright bass subtly fills in the background behind the soloists. Reinhardt’s "Andouman" is a great example of how delicate this combination can be. Compliments are in order for the recording technicia, with guitars left-right, bass in the middle background and applause nicely mixed down to not come at you full throttle from the front.
During higher paced compositions and improvisations, the duo proves that they communicate not merely aurally but employ some extrasensory or telepathic connection - a higher level of communication. The anticipation of and reaction to nuances is simply phenomenal, already opening the strings for a stroke on the rhythm guitar while the soloist puts on an accent or break. In parts where the solo is switched from one to the other, this handover isn't studied. Spontaneity is afoot and the listener follows hypnotized.
That the recording is live makes a big difference. Gypsy swing --or no matter what other emotionally pregnant music -- should be enjoyed live, be it out in the open around a campfire, in a trailer, in a café or even a bigger venue. Many gypsy swing albums, even those of genre inventor Django himself, are lacking what Gypsy Guitar Masters (what a fitting title) has in abundance: Atmosphere!
For us this live album is the crowning touch of what Double Jeu began, On this recording, the two guitarists have come even closer together and thus, yet closer to the public.