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Christian Escoudé : Christian Escoudé Plays Brassens: Au Bois de Mon Coeur

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The late poet, musician and political activist George Brassens began performing his affecting songs after World War II and was a beloved cultural hero in France at the time of his death in 1981. Here, veteran French guitarist Christian Escoudé interprets Brassens’ tunes in a Gypsy-jazz vein with a core trio of bassist Pierre Boussanuet and drummer Anne Paceo, augmented by a bevy of special guests. From the breezy title track (with buoyant clarinet work by Andre Villeger), to the briskly strummed “Le Petit Cheval” and the minor-key “La Non-Demande en Mariage,” a lovely vehicle for violinist Fiona Monbet, this collection charms as it swings. Guitarist Biréli Lagrène guests on the modal “Les Passantes,” and 11-year-old Gypsy-jazz guitar phenom Swan Berger exchanges extravagant licks with Escoudé on the relaxed swinger “Dans L’Eau de la Claire Fontaine.” There is some spirited call-and-response with Villeger on the effervescent “Le Vieux Leon,” and the guitarist conjures a Hot Club vibe with Monbet on the ebullient “Le Copains D’Abord.” A must for both Francophiles and Djangophiles.

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