Thursday, May 15, 2014

Roby Lakotos & Ensemble, La Passion, Live at Sydney Opera House

As most are well aware "Gypsy Jazz" is undergoing a vast resurgence. Most of the time, however, what is meant by that is tributary revivals of the jazz as played by Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and his Hot Club group featuring violinist Stephan Grapelly. As wonderful as that music is it is not the only Gypsy Jazz possibility out there. Demonically endowed technician and passionate violinist Roby Lakatos gives us an alternative on his recent 2-CD set La Passion, Live at Sydney Opera House (Avanti Classic 5414706104125).

It takes as its starting point classical music that reflects Gypsy music, old folk melodies and some unusual but appropriate other material, like the pop song "Those Were the Days" and Tchaikovsky's "Flight of the Bumblebee". Then there are nods to the Django-Grapelly nexus as well with things like "Honeysuckle Rose".

The ensemble features the incredibly facilitated Gypsy violin of the leader plus a pianist and a cimbalom player who are also fantastically adept. Filling out the ensemble is someone who gets a chance here and there to demonstrate a post-Django prowess on guitar, plus bass and second violin.

It is a treat to hear these folks in the full flower of passion. Lakatos is a veritable demon and his band is right there with him. This is great fun but also some extraordinarily exciting music!

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