CD review – Franco-American Swing by John Jorgenson

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This gypsy jazz CD is a bit different. It features the great guitar playing of John Jorgenson but in an unusual setting – many tracks have full string orchestra arrangements provided by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. It is nice to listen to music that has been so carefully arranged – a pleasant change from many albums which are close to jam sessions. Whether a string orchestra in the background is to your taste is an entirely personal preference and I suspect that listeners will fall into love it or hate it camps without much in between. On the tracks without the strings John Jorgenson plays nearly everything himself. I had being listening to the title track for months admiring the almost klezmer style clarinet as well as the guitar before I found out from the sleeve notes that John Jorgenson plays that, and the tenor saxophone on that track. He also plays vibes and percussion on other tunes – and most of us struggle to pass muster on just the guitar!

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6 Responses to CD review – Franco-American Swing by John Jorgenson

  1. Christopher Brown says:

    I am ambivalent about this CD and about John Jorgenson in general. Mostly positive reactions. (1) John Jorgenson has been carrying the torch for this music for decade–God bless him. (2) He is a great player. (3) His compositions are fantastic. I have learned learned transcriptions of FA Swing and Valse de Samois, and they are wonderful and unique tunes.

    I guess my principal issue is that this recording lacks a certain jazz feeling. Django was a jazz musician of the highest order. So is Birelli. But FA Swing is so produced, and meticulously arranged it lacks that pulse and vitality of the best Gypsy Jazz. I had something of that response when I same him play at a Gypsy Jazz festival in Northampton MA. His set followed Stephan Wrembel who fluid and adventurous in his playing. By contrast, John Jorgenson’s set almost seemed hokey. His chops were amazing, and he did some note for note rendition Django’s Appel Direct. But it seemed canned, with a hint of show biz theatrics. And there was a bit of a Django meets Nashville feel to it.

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