May 2006

Andre Cecarelli Trio with Bireli Lagrene
Avenue Des Diables Blues
Dreyfus Records

For his first session as a leader, the in-demand French drummer and longtime sideman to singer Dee Dee Bridgewater joins with two absolute killers in Gypsy guitarist Biréli Lagrène and reigning Hammond B3 champion Joey DeFrancesco for a program of swinging standards with an emphasis on pyrotechnic soloing from the two chopsmeisters. From the supercharged opener, a blazing take on Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” to the energized closer, a burning rendition of “The Song Is You,” it’s clear that this is strictly a stripped-down, no-holds-barred blowing session. The sheer facility that Lagrène and DeFrancesco exhibit throughout—even on a gentle ballad offering like “Sophisticated Lady” or their mellow rendition of “Summertime” in tribute to Jimmy Smith—is simply staggering, yet they also convey a depth of soulful expression that is unsurpassed.Ceccarelli underscores the heated action with a seasoned, supportive swing feel and sensitive brushwork on the ballads. And he steps forward for an extended drum solo on “Prelude,” which serves as springboard into an exhilarating, tempo-shifting rendition of “April in Paris.” Other highlights by this dynamic triumvirate include a gorgeous rendition of Jaco Pastorius’ waltz-time ballad “Three Views of a Secret” and a hip, swinging interpretation of Edith Piaf’s signature song, “La Vie en Rose,” which is underscored by Ceccarelli’s supple brushwork.

Originally published in May 2006

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