Jazz Album of the Week: 30 Years of the Hot Club of San Francisco

Nov 19, 2018

November 19, 2018. The Hot Club of San Francisco was created 30 years ago because guitarist Paul “Pazzo” Mehling wanted to spread the music and history of Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and their Hot Club de France. Over a dozen albums later, the group is commemorating their musical journey with 30 Years, a compilation of favorites from their previous albums.

A diverse mix of the jazz and Great American songbooks, classical compositions, an original, and the obligatory Beatles tribute, the tunes covered on this album emote the true spirit of Django. Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris” puts the spotlight on vocalist and guitarist Isabelle Fontaine, a French native, who brings a, authentic element to the tune.

Reinhardt’s “Theme from Gypsyland (Nuages),” mainly features violinist Evan Price, who also composed “Jonesin’,” an upbeat rag that joined the ranks of the favorites on this record. Guitarist Jordan Samuels and bassist Sam Rocha make this classic configuration work by holding things down on offerings like “Claire de Lune,” and contribute vocals on the French group-sing that George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone” turned into.

There is no need to declare that “Gypsy Jazz is alive and well.” The Hot Club of San Francisco has been a prominent group for three decades, with many other American cities (including Philadelphia) following in their footsteps. This Jazz Album of the Week pays homage to them all, along with the originators.