Russell Welch Hot Quartet, …Pour Vous (Russell Welch Jazz)

Russell Welch Hot Quartet, ...Pour Vous, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, February 2014

Russell Welch’s Hot Quartet takes its sound from the gypsy guitar sound of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France bands from the ’30s. It’s a type of music that for many reasons makes sense in the traditional jazz environment of New Orleans. Throughout the record the band maintains a tight sound with the guitars and bass keeping a steady beat as the soloists fit their improvisations into the constant rhythm. Both Welch and Adrian Tanaga on guitar have a great tone and intricate melodic sense for their parts. Their fast playing on “Django’s Tiger” and the long lines and call and response playing on “Babik” are prime examples of what makes this music exciting. Guests Bruce Brackman on clarinet and Matt Rhody on violin have a looser and less dense playing style which makes for a good contrast especially on the slower numbers such as “Si Tu Savais.” The rest of the music here are well-played standards such as “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” and “Stardust.” There is a consistency here in sound and performance that is fine, and when the band plays a song more in the bebop rather than gypsy jazz vein such as “Joy Spring,” it jumps out at the listener in a good way. A little more of that would have served this recording better, but for fans of mid-century guitar jazz with a Django-esque sensibility, the Russell Welch Hot Quartet will leave you satisfied.