On young French guitarist Stephane Wrembel’s dazzling album Gypsy Rumble, featuring David Grisman as a critical special guest, the Hot Club de Jazz airs up are upfront and center. Grisman rises to the occasion, keeping the bluegrass and other interests tucked in his back pocket.
Wrembel knows from whence he plays, having visited gypsy camps in France as a teenager, studying at Berklee and writing the Mel Bay book Getting into Gypsy Jazz Guitar. It ain’t book-learning, though, that makes Wrembel’s album so hot. He’s one of the legions of unabashed Django worshippers who have sought to recreate the guitarist’s magic, but Wrembel has chops that impress on technical and emotional levels. On a number of vintage-sounding gypsy-jazz tunes, Wrembel shows his considerable dexterity and fount of ideas.
Along with Grisman as mandolin-picking foil, Wrembel is nicely backed by ace musicians—rhythm guitarist Eric Rodgers and bassist Jared Engel. The album also sports a couple of French chanson tracks, featuring vocalist Brandi Shearer, brothers Robin and Kevin Nolan, reed player Ralph Carney and bassist Simon Planting. Wrembel contributes to the sense that this type of historical musical avenue is a valid place to revisit and redecorate.