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Les Doigts de l'Homme
1910 
Olivier Kikteff, Acoustic Guitar
Yannick Alcocer, Acoustic Guitar
Benoit "Binouche" Convert, Acoustic Guitar
Tanguy Blum, Acoustic Bass

Review By Phil Gold

  Europeans have already shown great enthusiasm for this jazzy French guitar quartet. 1910, their fourth album, is their first to be released in North America, with dates at jazz festivals across the continent, including, San Francisco, New York, Montreal and Toronto. It takes the great Django Reinhardt (born 1910) as its theme and inspiration, including some of his own compositions and repertoire, mixed with a sprinkling of standards and new compositions by band member Olivier Kikteff.

Each member of this youthful quartet is a musician of the first rank, but it is hard to single them out because it is the interplay and understanding between them that is the most astounding quality on display rather than their individual virtuosity. Best of all is the amazing range and quality of the tunes and their treatments here. Even those raised on recordings of Django in his peak starting with the Quintette du Hot Club de France in the thirties and forties will revel in the energetic and inventive versions of such Django classics as "Féérie", "Appel Indirect", "Boléro", "Improvisation No2" and "Minor Swing".

Les Doigts del'Homme (literally The Fingers of Man) started as a trio of Kikteff, Alcocer and Blum in 2003, and added Benoit Convert, a formidable jazz guitarist to the roster in 2008. This change produced a fuller sound and propelled the group to greater heights. I should point out that while the group plays in the gypsy style, none of its members are in fact Roma. Their other albums have combined gypsy music with rock and world music influences, while this time out they focus on Django exclusively.

If the general level of the album is top notch, I must still single out some favorites. "Appel Indirect" and "St James Infirmary Blues" are superb while "Indifférence" stands out head and shoulders for its more relaxed tempo, improvisatory and even mystical nature. It would in fact be easier to list the tracks I was underwhelmed by. There would be just one, "Blue Lou", among all 17 tracks.

This is a an outstanding French group to put alongside the extraordinary Les Yeux Noirs, the crossover gypsy/ klezmer band form Paris, and 1910 hits all the bases. Check it out.

 

 

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