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Comfortably familiar but always fresh: the sound of violin, two guitars and double bass is as beguiling now as it was in 1934, when the great Romany guitarist Django Reinhardt and French violinist Stéphane Grappelli first recorded what came to be known as “Gypsy jazz”. Highly regarded among today’s exponents, Fapy Lafertin is of the same Romany clan as Django and took up the guitar at the age of five. The clarity and warmth of his playing, not to mention his apparently effortless technique, are marks of real artistry. His three companions, especially violinist Alexandre Tripodi, match him to perfection.
The freshness comes from the fascinating variety of styles. Generations of Roma musicians have absorbed all kinds of music on their travels, and only in this genre could you find four players performing, as they do here, brilliantly and in quick succession a Hungarian waltz, a ballad by Sacha Distel, a swing number from the 1930s, a Brazilian melody played on the Portuguese 12-string guitar, and so on for nine more tracks. And whatever the mood of the moment, there’s an underlying cheerfulness about this idiom that’s simply irresistible.