Yerba Buena Bounce
Which audience will enjoy Yerba Buena Bounce more: fans of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli or devotees of David Grisman’s “dawg” music? It’s a tossup, no doubt, but certainly mandolinist Grisman’s two cameos here should be enough to entice some of his followers to explore what the latest release by the Hot Club of San Francisco holds.
No matter. Even before Grisman makes his first appearance, adding some Mediterranean zest to “Sway,” the Hot Club has already moved from a propulsive arrangement of Reinhardt and Grappelli’s “Mystery Pacific” to an Argentine-tinted take on Lennon and McCartney’s “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” that features Seth Asamo on bandoneón.
Grisman returns several tracks later, along with Asamo, to lend a melancholy air to “Lullabye,” a ballad composed by Hot Club guitarist Paul Mehling. Most of the tunes, however, stem from the swing era, and Mehling’s affinity for Django’s touch and repertoire couldn’t be more obvious on the pieces written or co-written by the late guitarist, which include “Black and White,” “Improvisation #2” and “Rhythme Futur,” also a terrific showcase for violinist Evan Price.
The Hot Club’s guitar triumvirate—Mehling on lead, and Jeff Magidson and Jason Vanderford on rhythm—and bassist Ari Munkres make for a formidable juggernaut, unless they’re in a mellow mood, as when infusing “Stardust” with a soft glow. Capping the session are two bonus tracks that find the Hot Club, with Mehling on vocals, collaborating in a Dixieland setting with clarinetist Bill Carter, Marc Caprone and trombonist-tubist Clint Baker.