The gypsy-jazz sextet, Gaucho bring back the jangly country-swing grooves of riverboat bands and the emotive nature of Russian-based folk dances on their latest album, Deep Night. Their repertoire has shavings of Django Reinhardt’s country textured jazz with slabs of gypsy-folk dance rhythms. The band’s rhythm section has raspy washboard strokes of Ari Munkres on standup bass and the splashing strikes of drummer Pete Devine creating a pliable floorboard for the supple accordion swags of Rob Reich and the swiveling riffs of guitarists Dave Ricketts and Michael Groh as Ralph Carney’s horns slip and slide excitedly across the melodic seams. The band’s arrangements are so well balanced that everyone’s parts have definition as they each share the spotlight, including special guest guitarist Craig Ventresco whose ragtime textured sequences add glitz and flying sparks to the numbers.
From beginning to end, the album feels like an episode of the Lawrence Welk Show, particularly in the band’s rendition of "Tea For Two" which was a staple of the show. Moving from the country meshed clip-clopping beats of "St. Louis Blues" to the sensual Spanish flare of the guitar riffs in "Bossa Dorado" and "Tico Tico," to the exotic zig-zagging patterns of the clarinet in "The Sheik Of Araby" and the Italian bistro ambience of "Two Deuces" and "Memories Of You," Gaucho integrates influences from various world cultures into their music. But no matter where the band takes their music, the tunes are all dance floor oriented from the tender glides of "Bei Dir War Es Immer So Schoen" to the jumping beats and nimbly swiveling motions of "Some Of These Days." The suavely rolling slopes of the horns in the title track have a waltzing strut that emotes deep seeded desires with overtones of a Greek tragedy, while the peppy sprigs of horns and accordion keys swerving across "Dark Eyes" are laced in a Russian-folk dance rhythm.
Gaucho scores high marks for integrating the rhythms of world cultures in their music while also retaining a slice of Americana in their songs with elements of ragtime and the old-time country-swing of riverboat bands. They offer more than a typical gypsy-jazz ensemble and their love of this music is inspiring.