The new CD entitled Crocus, released independently by Duane Andrews in 2006, is a well-produced mix of songs in a Gypsy Jazz style. The CD starts off with an Andrews original, "Isaac’s Blues," an up-tempo piece that flashes guitar brilliance from Andrews and leads into nice muted trumpet playing by Patrick Boyle.
There are a few songs on the CD that are labelled traditional. The songs "Hound’s Tune," "McBain’s/The Sailor’s Bonnet" and "Palm Sunday" are all songs that sound similar to the type of music you would hear at an east coast fiddlers contest. A mix of Celtic music, Irish and Scottish Jigs and Reels, the traditional folk music of Newfoundland and Cape Briton.
Andrews puts his own spin on these traditional songs by adding swinging trad jazz trumpet lines that weave in and out of the melody lines. During his guitar breaks he reverts back to Reinhardt inspired playing with single note sustained glides that run into flashy runs and finish up with lighting fast licks, and finally, a strumming intro for the trumpet to hauntingly carry the story forward.
The song "Swing 42" is a Reinhardt tune. Andrews performed it live and it’s also on the new CD. A well-written song performed with a great swing feel, excellent bass lines, and wandering trumpet lines that are full of spirit and give a wonderful lively feel to the song. The final verse has trumpet and guitar playing off each other and it is really well done.
I caught the Duane Andrews, Django Reinhardt Gypsy Jazz show recently at the Rex, a famed Toronto jazz club. Andrews put on an enjoyable show, which displayed his talented guitar playing. Andrews hails from Newfoundland, this was one stop on his Canadian tour.
Andrews was appearing with his regular working sideman, rhythm guitarist Steve Hussey and local Toronto bass player Cheong Liu. The performance was billed as a quartet, however, we only witnessed a trio in the first set. The set consisted of eight songs, a melange of traditional jazz, east coast songs, European ballads and Django Reinhardt tunes performed with a swingin’ good time feel that created a joie de vivre with the bar patrons and fans alike.
The show kicked off with Ellington’s "Caravan," a song from Andrews’ self titled first CD - released in 2004 on the MMS Atlantic Label. The next song also from the same CD, "La Gitane" followed. At this point, it was evident that Andrews is a skilled guitarist, nice fluid runs, triple time heavy picking with the right hand. A style of strumming that sounds like bare fingers on nylon strings, sans pick.
On the song "Portuguese Waltz" Andrews was playing guitar in a banjo style, bass player Liu was playing slow ¾-waltz time and Andrews, strumming rapidly and accenting the bass player’s beats. The rhythm guitarist Hussey was playing a solid waltz melody that allowed Andrews to fly to and fro in the structure of the tune with imaginative licks that maintained the waltz rhythm thanks to the triplet feel in the accompanying runs that he would use to tie it all together.
A blend of classical, flamenco and jazz guitar styles that just makes watching Andrews’ control of the guitar captivating. Fiery runs in the higher registers and slides to the low end, punctuated by single note accents that propels the music to a heightened level of joy and excitement.
Andrews is educated as a jazz guitarist, he discovered the music of Reinhardt while continuing his musical studies in France. It was during this time in France that the music of Gypsy Jazz pioneer, Django Reinhardt, made a profound impact on Andrews.
Upon his return to Newfoundland he began fusing Reinhardt’s style with traditional Newfoundland music and original compositions. Check out Duane Andrews new CD, Crocus. It's a real delight.