Hank Marvin is best known as the lead guitarist of the British pop band The Shadows, whose influence through the 1960s inspired cutting-edge material from such rock guitarists as Brian May, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. Moving forward, Marvin’s latest offering Django’s Castle is a compilation of some of Django Reinhardt’s most popular tunes marshaling a swing jazz treatment. The recording not only pays homage to Reinhardt but it makes his music relevant to a modern generation who can appreciate the artful nuances of Nunzio Mondia’s accordion and the intricate details of Marvin’s fretwork. There is a ballroom feel to the instrumentals reminiscent of the classy orchestrations helmed by bandleader Lawrence Welk. A dash of modern jazz is evidenced by the energetic beats of bassists Pete Jeavons, Robbie Pisano, and Matt Willis supporting the subtle ruminations of rhythm guitarist Gary Taylor soldered into the melodies.
The melodic motifs are crisp and clean, concentrating on the single notes threaded by Marvin’s guitar as in “Si Tu Savais,” with Mondia’s accordion providing graceful sweeps that add twinkling embellishments. The combination of the guitar and accordion make for complementary companions throughout the recording as each take turns leading the melodic progressions. “Honeysuckle Rose” highlights their agreeable aspects as each indulges in flashes of improvisational phrasing though never loses sight of the track’s signature theme. “Coquette” is a sweet ditty that has a nostalgic vibe sculpting waves of uplifting beats and summery atmospherics. Old world traditions and modern fretting come together in this number.
The swinging grooves of “Micro” are tailored by Marvin’s jumping chords with Mondia’s accordion chiming in the form of bouncy swirls which shift to a strolling rhythm in “Viper’s Dream” as Marvin infuses a touch of “Chattanooga Cho-Cho”-style boogie woogie into the mix. The title track is a smooth swing number as the guitar chords softly flex, shaping silky ripples while the accordion gently silhouettes the melody. Accented with Italian-tinged tones, the guitar flares along “Minor Swing” propel a dance rhythm as the accordion partakes in the festive mood. Marvin’s rendition of jazz standards like “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” and “Swingtime in Springtime” revitalize these novelty tunes with an air of contemporary allure. The intricate fretwork in “Belleville” suffuses the number with animated frills.
Lively and melodically groomed, Django’s Castle from Hank Marvin makes the music of Django Reinhardt relevant to a modern generation. Marvin had inspired a breed of rock musicians through the later half of the 20th century but his latest offering stimulates an affinity for jazz guitar, giving swing-embossed tunes a fresh feel with 21st century aesthetics.
Hank Marvin – lead guitar, Nunzio Mondia – accordion, Gary Taylor – rhythm guitar, Pete Jeavons – double bass; Special Guest: Robbie Pisano – bass, Matt Willis – bass
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