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Howard Alden: I Remember Django

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I Remember Django scarcely qualifies as a hard sell. Guitarist Django Reinhardt’s legacy, after all, has long been a sweet spot for Howard Alden, the renowned seven-string disciple with a track record that speaks eloquently for itself. If Woody Allen hadn’t entrusted Alden with the responsibility of hitting all the right notes during the melancholic, Django-indebted charmer Sweet and Lowdown, would Sean Penn, the film’s star, have seemed so convincing in the role? Fat chance.

As it happens, Sweet and Lowdown inspires a highlight performance on this 13-track homage, a medley of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams” that is soulfully enhanced by cornetist Warren Vaché. The well-matched musicians get off to a splendid start with “Who Cares?,” and spend much of their time shading and trading lines with the kind of precision and effortlessness a Reinhardt celebration demands. Alden is in fine company throughout, with bassist Jon Burr and rhythm guitarist Matt Munisteri providing expert support. The guitarist goes it alone on “Nagasaki,” however, a crackling tour de force.

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