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Jerome Barde: Melodolodie

Sift out the Djangophiles and American jazz-based players from other European guitarists, and arguably what’s left are iconoclasts with little sense of real tradition like Jerome Barde, whose approach was no doubt honed in the rues, places and bistros of Paris and other European locales. Recorded in France, Melodolodie (Sunnyside), a quartet performance, features his unique style and sound, produced on an unusual hollow-body guitar shaped out of what looks like a slice of hard-boiled egg that’s had a couple of bites taken out of it. Discounting a possible language disconnect, “Bifurq Blues” has nothing to do with the blues in the usual sense, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t swing in its own way. Beginning with a loping but not slow groove in three, it soon shifts to a brisk four that provides a foundation for Barde’s largely modal foray that includes some energetic melodic ideas along with a bit of obvious digital hunting and pecking. After a grooving drum break by Daniel Bruno-Garcia, things return to where they started and wind down from there, fading away like a bateau-monche lazily drifting along the Seine. “La Valse a 30 Ans” begins lightly and at one point sounds vaguely like “Footprints”; eventually, it builds up some steam, as bassist Vincent Artaud, pianist Baptiste Trotignon and Barde contribute nice, fluid solos. And while “Come Sunday” constitutes the set’s only nonoriginal, it gives Barde an opportunity to get in his most blatant Gypsyesque playing, perhaps an oblique salute to the historic encounters between Reinhardt and Ellington in the late ’30s and ’40s. Atypical in terms of approach and sound, Barde’s guitar work is different and refreshing, a kind of panache for the ear. In short, c’est tres bon.

Originally Published