Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Live at the Dakota: Dorado Schmitt All-Stars

I saw an amazing concert on Tuesday night at the Dakota jazz club. The concert was part of a series celebrating Django Reinhardt's 100th birthday. Dorado Schmitt, a French Gypsy guitarist who plays in a similar style to Django Reinhardt, brought his great group to Minneapolis. The line-up was Dorado on guitar, his son Samson on rhythm guitar, the blind accordionist Marcel Loeffler, Pierre Blanchard on violin, and Brian Torff on bass. They played some original songs, and some songs associated with Django and Stephane Grappelli. (Samson was able to copy Django's licks on "Minor Swing" just about perfectly.) Dorado is able to perfectly capture Django's impossibly quick, impossibly perfect-sounding runs up and down the fretboard, no small feat. Whether it was an uptempo song or a ballad, all the players were outstanding. They were all able to get just the right feel for a piece. These are clearly musicians who enjoy playing together. Dorado can play as fast as Django could, but he can also bring the required emotion to slower songs.

This show is as close as I will ever come to seeing Django Reinhardt live. It was like taking a trip back to Paris in the late 1930's. Amazing. Tres bien.

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