The beauty of gypsy jazz is how immediately likeable it is without sacrificing one iota of sonic complexity. New Orleans practitioners the Showarama Hot Trio (Russell Welch and Alessandro Centolanza on guitar, Joshua Gouzy on acoustic bass) tip their hats to the great Django Reinhardt but maintain their own voice on this set of intimate, swinging originals. The musicianship is masterful. The interludes on “Showarama No. 1” curl out like feathery fractals that get more complex the closer you listen, yet the central, strident beat of the song is as intuitive as a door knock.
The easy-yet-intricate interplay of the record recalls some of the great acoustic show-off records: Jerry Garcia/Tony Rice/David Grisman’s The Pizza Tapes and John McLaughlin/Al di Meola/Paco de Lucía’s Friday Night in San Francisco or perhaps some of John Fahey’s more romantic sides — all records where spectacular talents fall in together like gears. The difference is this album’s charm emerges from a pointed sublimation of ego. There is no one-upmanship when synergy is the real goal.
Take “Twin Mornings,” a soft, breezy melody that frames bold, earthy strokes and gossamer, butterfly fretwork alike. The relative exotica of “Island of Troia” and “Greek Night” sandwich in perfectly with “Waltz of Women,” an elegant procession, and the twilight introspection of “Broken in the Strangest Way.”
One might consider calling this album “perfect dinner music” or “an excellent conversation album” insulting, and I don’t mean to be when I offer that it is both. This is no easy listening outing but instead, the kind of spiritually dense record that sparks the mind to be sharper, the tone to be warmer, the heart to be more open.