Album Title: American Gypsy
Performer: Babik
Label: Babik Jazz
Playing time: 58'46'

What's in a name? If your group calls itself Babik like Django Reinhardt's son, one rightly assumes 'next-generation' Gypsy Jazz in the Django vein. Check. American Gypsy then fixes the locale on the faraway colonies in which Reinhardt to this days had the most profound impact on the Jazz idiom of any European foreigner. By celebrating continued US relevance for his Hot Club style, Babik isn't entirely alone. There's Pearl Django in Seattle for a Django lite take. There's devil-fingered Frank Vignola who laid down some monster riffs on Hot Swing with fiddler Mark O'Connor and bassist Jon Burr. There's been the Café Noir outfit which covered a different, more Russian strain of the Jazz Manouche phenom. But it's fair to say that Django's spirit is more active in France, Belgium and even Norway than the US. Enter Babik in Buffalo/NY to recalibrate the scales.

The quartet consists of Stuart Fuchs on lead guitar, Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry as Stephane Grappelli's alter ego on violin, Joshua Assad on rhythm guitar and Kevin O'Brien on upright bass. Babik concertizes about 150 days a year. American Gypsy is their follow-up to the Babik - pronounced bah-beek debut and expands the earlier standards coverage to 10 original numbers and just three reruns. Here those are "I can't give you anything but Love" sung by Heather Hodson, "Douce Ambience" by the Belgian maestro and Turner and Layton's "After you're gone".

There are smartly picked guest artists for a fresh breeze into the Manouche sail, with Vladimir Mollow on accordion injecting a more Bulgarian than Musette air into the smoking "Life Cycles". There's Brian 'Dr. Jazz' Bauer on clarinet who turns "Life is a dream" into a minor Klez direction while the core outfit's very own fiddler shifts easily into Cajun swamp and Appalachian stomp mode for a bit of genre crossing.

Two extra celli on "LeLuppe Bonzini" give that tune a charming Viennese Swing flair while "San Juanillo" with its bird calls, rain sticks, overtone flute and bongos adds a bit of Latin spice.

American Gypsy
is mostly up tempo happy-go-lucky music whose only serious ambition is to not be serious, have a good time, feet tap, heads bop and rowdy audience members wolf whistle.

Technically more advanced than Pearl Django but not quite as otherworldly greased as the earlier mentioned O'Connor & Vignola pairing, Babik is a very solid addition to the general Jazz Manouche genre. More importantly, they're not just studio or occasional top-shelf venue musicians. These are heavily working cats who infect the front lines with the feel-good swing of their 1950's spiritual father to walk the talk and enlarge the Django Reinhardt church by playing hard and having an obvious ball doing it.