The New Vagabond movement of trad-jazz post-K transplants—and let’s keep using that term until OffBeat readers come up with a more fitting one—hasn’t produced many instrumental albums, odd for a genre that routinely rejects any style developed after Hiroshima.
However, Mississippi Gipsy goes a long way towards rectifying that omission, while adding a few new wrinkles Russell’s guitar brethren would be smart to pick up on (glockenspiel and a violin pretending to be a theremin, for a start).
Better still, the titles are damn descriptive all their own, and intriguingly accurate when announcing the mood—“Mrs. Ladybug’s Daydream” is ethereal in miniature, “Hey Bedroom Fans” is a languid afternoon romance, “Deed to the Bouncy House” moves with a jaunty innocence, and “Metaphysical Comedy” is the best kind of self-consciously overwrought farce.
The real coup, though, was the Jackson native’s decision to expand his sonic palette on what can be considered his second album: last year’s “Showarama Hot Trio” was a tour de force of all-acoustic gypsy jazz insanity, but adding violin, sax, and clarinet makes Welch’s impossible runs up and down the neck more, not less, potent, allowing him to go off in controlled bursts of Djangoesque power and doing more with slightly less.
What was an amazing exercise is now a study in feeling.