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The Courtyard Kings

Douces Wild

(Independent)

The Courtyard Kings, Douces Wild

The Courtyard Kings know what they’re doing when it comes to melodic, velvety, Gypsy-tinged swing. The preponderance of French titles (“Manoir De Mes Reves,” “Douce Ambiance”) should give some idea of the territory we’re in here. The group offers picturesque renditions of tunes from “Exactly Like You” to “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” The latter provides a pleasing showcase for the soloing of Mark Weliky (lead guitar) and Mike Harvey (violin).

Guest appearances mark some of the album’s strongest moments, especially Norbert Slama’s agile accordion work, which fleshes out the group’s sound on “Douce Joie” and “Swing Gitan.” Helen Gillet shows up for a flashy cello solo on “My Funny Valentine.”

“Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars),” with its bossa nova guitar chords, placid violin solos and Kristina Morales crooning about “floating on the silence that surrounds us” veers toward dangerous levels of smoothness. But the group keeps their sense of humor about it, closing out the album with the “Cantina Band” song from Star Wars.

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