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Royce Campbell: Gypsy Soul

Royce Campbell didn’t intend to jump on the Django Reinhardt bandwagon so much as incorporate gypsy jazz into 10 originals when he recorded Gypsy Soul. Bob Bowen (bass) and Phil Riddle (drums) accompany him, but their contributions stay in the background and simply hold things together. Up front, Campbell overdubs a rhythm guitar part, which usually bangs out a steady four-to-the-bar beat, and adds the appropriate bounce to the music. The setting certainly evokes Reinhardt, but true to Campbell’s goal, his writing and melodic ideas are really what stand out.

After some dramatic Gypsy strumming opens the album, “On the Move” kicks into a minor blues. It barely lasts four minutes, like most of the tracks, but Campbell packs in some meaty solos during that time, even going back for a second helping after he restates the theme. “The Rhythm Method” rejuvenates the “I Got Rhythm” changes together with a call-and-response theme and another bright set of fretwork. Perhaps realizing that all the 4/4 bouncing can make the whole program blur together, Campbell puts on brakes a couple times for the down-tempo, bluesy “Slow Down, Low Down” and an out-of-tempo piece for solo guitar, “Gypsy Romance,” which lives up to its title.

Originally Published