Jazzin’ Around – Double Album Digipack Edition

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Chicago Jazz Magazine review :

David Herzhaft – Jazzin’ Around

David Herzhaft – Harmonicas
Patrick Argentier – Drums
Thierry Reocreux – Bass instruments
Remy Varaine – Guitars

Special Guests:
Howard Levy – Harmonica
Frank Gambale – Guitars
Samuel Garcia – Accordion
Thierry Lecoq – Fiddle
Francois Quillet – Keyboards
Brian Fullen – Percussion

Start off with a rock solid rhythm section, add an astounding virtuoso, and you have a clear recipe for a successful CD. The double CD release of David Herzhaft, Jazzin’ Around, is certainly that and more.

A “production” in the fullest sense, this harmonica master has achieved an outstanding accomplishment, setting forth a full breadth of both brilliant and astounding musicality, encapsulated in a succinct seventy-five minutes.

The selections are wide ranging. Roughly half of the fifteen tracks are originals by the featured artist. The rest extend from Gershwin to Gillespie, Jobim to Miles Davis, and also include Coltrane, among others. Even old standards are reinvented and given new life. “Summertime” is approached as sort of a Tropicale funk. “Giant Steps” has a unique feel enkindled by a change in rhythmic underpinning from the expected familiar. And Herzhaft arranged the classical composition by Paganini, Caprice No. 5, with a Latin feel. Though it’s his traditional (and true to the original) opening and ending solos alone will leave you as breathless as it did Herzhaft.

John Coltrane’s “Impressions” is the second tune on the first disc. It begins by creatively carrying over a vamp reprised from the opening track (an original entitled “NYC Groove”), but here they take a more meditative turn from the hard-driving music that kicked off the album. It’s here that Herzhaft begins to show what amazing chops he possesses and the thoughtfulness of his musical ideas.

A special treat is to hear Howard Levy sit in with his own blues harp on “A Night In Tunisia”, and later on “Turtle Shuffle.” With many an album the addition of Levy would be the key to making the entire thing fly (and his solos certainly do take off), but in this case Herzhaft himself is such an amazing instrumentalist that it merely polishes an already exemplary product, bringing these two great practitioners of the harmonica together.

Other special guests are also heard, such as noted guitarist Frank Gambale on the title track, “Jazzin’ Around.” Francois Quillet adds his own tasty insights to several songs, using almost every conceivable keyboard, from organ to piano and beyond. At one point he even shows up on strings. And Brian Fullen fills out several cuts performing percussion.

Not to overlook the core of this band (Patrick Argentier, drums; Thierry Reocreux, bass; Remy Varaine, guitars) they each add some top-notch work towards the whole while making the most of their solo opportunities. How refreshing to hear music making which elevates the level of each player.

The second disc especially provides an intriguing journey around the world with its choices.

“How Insensitive” is more customary in presentation, allowing for a pretty ballad-type of playing by Herzhaft, a nice contrast to the fantastically wild flights of flurry heard on many of the other tracks.

Accordion isn’t an instrument employed as well or as frequently as it could be in jazz, but the addition of Samuel Garcia for his own work, “Rue de Tribourg” (and later “The Happy Skiek”), shows how it should be done. The syncopation and counterpoint in this fast waltz are positively thrilling.

Then it’s down to “Lousiana,” yet another original, here including the fiery fiddle of Thierry Lecoq, which is just a good ‘ol Creole party.

I could easily go on raving about details of this set, and I already look forward to my next listening.
––Tim Gault

By: tim gault


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