Camelot Lounge, December 18
Daniel Weltlinger named his new album Koblenz after the home town of the Reinhardt family – descendants of the immortal Django Reinhardt who a century ago ended America’s monopoly on jazz innovation and revolutionised improvisation on the guitar. Even had Weltlinger’s connection with the Reinhardts not become personal his bond with Django’s musical legacy runs so deep to have credibly driven this suite of tributes and extrapolations.
The music of Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli has spawned countless imitators and revivalists the world over, but Weltlinger where others have used the Gypsy swing idiom as a vehicle for virtuosity Weltlinger brings a refreshing sense of innocence to bear. The violinist imbues the melodies and his sound with a lightness and joyousness that can coexist with any sadness or pensiveness implicit in a given piece.
To realise Koblenz and also play a set of Reinhardt’s own music Weltlinger had assembled an exceptional octet in which his violin was joined by three guitars (Nigel Date, Ben Panucci, Cameron Jones), saxophones and clarinet (Edouard Bronson), accordion (Marcello Maio), piano (Daniel Pliner) and bass Thomas Wade). He used this pool of players selectively on the Koblenz material to draw out specific colours. Dark Clouds, a response to Reinhardt’s beloved Nuages, was among the stand-out compositions, engendering an exhilarating sense of weightlessness in Weltinger’s own improvising.
Bronson was magnificent throughout. If there is a musician alive who can so instantly put a smile on my face I’d love to hear him or her. His singing clarinet on The Maestro was a mad tumble of simultaneous laughs and cries. Indeed a single burst of his Bronson’s wide vibrato contains more humanity than some players inject into their entire careers, and his tenor saxophone exploded across Swing 48 like a sudden surge in heating, lighting and sound.
When they turned to Nuages Weltlinger was magisterial in continually tweaking the dynamics and intensity of his playing to make this miraculous piece of music live anew once more.