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May 1999

Bireli Lagrene
Bireli Lagrene
Jazzpoint

Guitarist Bireli Lagrene has worked his way through the early comparisons to Django Reinhardt that might easily have overwhelmed a developing talent. He has made the transition from prodigy to virtuoso, less likely to allow his dazzling technique to leave musicality in the dust. A dozen years ago, the balance was more precarious, as witness the contrast between Lagrene and Larry Coryell in this concert recording from 1986. There are some spectacular passages here, breakneck ensemble runs and inspired moments of invention. Coryell continuously exhibits a broader conception, a deeper integration of line and harmonic texture, than Lagrene can muster. They are joined by bassist Miroslav Vitous, who is unfortunately low in the mix-save for his arco musings on "All Blues," which play painfully with tonality.

Originally published in May 1999
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