August 01, 2012
[Review: Downbeat] Hot Club of Detroit - Junction
"Detroit knows a thing or two about Paris. Guitarists Paul Brady and Evan Perri have always done a great job contemporizing the quixotic, resolute riffing of the Quintette du Hot Club de France. It’s hard to identify the most enticing element of the fourth junket from this genre-blurring Motor City outfit. Perhaps it’s the exciting addition of no-nonsense, must-see reedist Jon Irabagon (from the band Mostly Other People Do The Killing), who pervades the opening track—the methodical Matrix nod “Goodbye Mr. Anderson”—with bellicose, bare-knuckle brashness. It could be the other recent Hot Club inductee, French vocalist Cyrille Aimée, who sugars this strange brew with crystalline tones on the Edith Piaf standard “La Foule.” Overall, Junction is a multi-pronged salute to Hot Club of Detroit’s multiplicity of inspirations. The diversity is emphasized on tunes such as the free-form John Zorn salute “Chutzpah”; a loose, unrefined version of the Ornette Coleman standard “Lonely Woman”; and even the true-to-Phorm Trey Anastasio opus “Rift.” But the intrigue of Junction lies in what it lacks: artistic boundaries. It’s the sonic equivalent of Django Reinhardt living in a Brooklyn loft with a Deadhead and a manic chainsaw artist. Compositionally, it’s a bold and premeditated think piece, yet it always maintains the integrity of Reinhardt in a thrilling, no-holds-barred attempt to throttle gypsy jazz into the 21st century. As the album title suggests, this is an intersection of traditional and unconventional influences at a modern crossroads. In theory, the concept of groove-centric gypsy jazz might sound like a recipe for aural anarchy, but in practice, the unorthodoxy definitely works. Bassist Shawn Conley replaces Andrew Kratzat—who was in a non-fatal automobile accident—and maintains his intent with delicacy and care here. In the spirit of Reinhardt & Co., the Hot Club of Detroit has maintained the original instrumentation of the Hot Club of France, which forewent the use of a drummer. Maybe that’s because the Hot Club of Detroit marches to its own rhythm."