I've been listing Stephane Wrembel's shows on here with a vague idea that he plays Django jazz. I knew he was good because someone whose taste I trust sent me his gig list. But, yeah, I had zero clue.
I went to see Stephane play last night at Barbes and I have to say...it was freaking amazing. It is like Spanish-rock and roll-Django-on-steroids-and-weed. He is very French and his hands get blurry quite a bit because they must play at about 40o beats per minute about 90% percent of the time.
It is not difficult to imagine him morphing from gypsy jazz to straight out rock electric guitar rock solo, which he sort of hints at sometimes.
I have been a Django lover for a long time, I listen to his music when I'm alone in my apartment cleaning , reading, staring into space. I listen to Django on long car rides, play his music for brunch and dinner guests. My favorite tunes are the slower ones: Peanut Vendor, Nuages, Manoir De mes Reves. Django is mellow, even when the beats per minute surpass the speed of light.
But Stephane, well! He is anything but mellow. His music is driving and virtuosic in a totally new way. He has completely embodied the spirit of a decades dead, two-and-a-half-fingered gypsy, but it is not imitation. It is homage and self-fulfillment simultaneously. That takes a lot of love.
I enjoyed the drummer (Richard Lee) very much, his solos were baaaad and swung hard. The rhythm guitarist (Koran Hasanagic) was sort of hidden behind his hair but his supporting and solo work came through beautifully. The bassist (Cassidy Holden) hadn't played with them before, an unknown, dressed in all black, and sort of obscured by his instrument, he killed it. The whole band was featured and equally talented, by no means was it the "Stephane Show".
I'll be back next week. Barbes is a wonderful little bar and if you can, I highly recommend getting your deprived little asses down there at 9:00 on Sunday, earlier if you want a seat.