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Friday, July 16, 2010

Evan Christopher 'Django a la Creole' @ The Sage, Gateshead. July 15th

Evan Christopher (clarinet), Dave Blekhorn (guitar), Dave Kelbie (guitar) & Sebastien Girardot (double bass)
The Sage, Gateshead, presented the second of three concerts with a distinct New Orleans connection with the appearance of Evan Christopher's Django a la Creole in a well attended Hall Two (two weeks earlier N'Orlinian Wynton Marsalis gave a memorable performance - in Hall One - with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and later this month Jon Cleary will be in the company of the Crescent City's Dirty Dozen Brass Band).
Clarinetist Christopher formed his European quartet Django a la Creole to explore Django Reinhardt's association with American jazz and a myriad of cultural influences from Latin America and the Caribbean. Two CDs - Django a la Creole and Finesse - have been recorded thus far and concert appearances have taken the band across Europe and to New Orleans itself. Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard, Jimmy Noone (and Duke, of course), Hubert Rostaing, Jelly Roll Morton - all, together with Django, were at the heart of Christopher's loving presentation of the music. Manoir de mes Reves, Dinette, I Know That You Know (a first set highlight), Passport to Paradise and others demonstrated the clarinetist's credentials as a player and a man of taste. The accomplished Dave Blenkhorn had many opportunities to solo, French bassist Sebastien Girardot took his turn in the spotlight and the 'engine room' as Christopher described him, Dave Kelbie, was (and is) a Hot Club-style rhythm guitarist par excellence.
Bigard featured again in the second set with Christopher to the fore on Solid Old Man. Other tunes such as Mood Indigo, Tropical Moon and a dashing Riverboat Shuffle (all of which can be found on the the new CD Finesse) were choice cuts as were Douce Ambience and Low Cotton from the debut CD Django a la Creole.
Evan Christopher played unamplified. He complimented the venue, declaring it to be a 'wonderful space' and the minimal use of amplification by his colleagues was, he said, not for volume but clarity. Christopher is a fine musician and a fine ambassador for the city of New Orleans.
Russell.

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