The Jazz Mann | Latchepen - Love Letters | Review | The Jazz Mann

Accessibility Menu

REVIEW

Latchepen - Love Letters Rating: 4 out of 5 Offers something fresh and exciting while working broadly within the gypsy jazz template. One of the most satisfying albums of its type that I’ve heard for quite a while.

Latchepen

“Love Letters”

(Blind Lemon Records)

Latchepen is a new London based quartet playing music inspired by Django Reinhardt and by Romani music in general. The group name comes from an exclamation expressing “happiness and contentment” in the Romani language.

I’m grateful to the group’s violinist, Yorkshire born, Scottish raised Matt Holborn, for forwarding me a review copy of this CD. I was previously familiar with Holborn’s playing after seeing performing as a guest with guitarist Remi Harris, the latter a regular presence on the Jazzmann web pages and something of a local hero as far as I’m concerned.

The Latchepen line up is completed by guitarists Kourash Kanani and Jeremie Coullon plus bassist Simon Read. Read is the second member of the group that I have seen performing live. He recently appeared at the Vortex in Dalston during the 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival as part of a trio led by pianist and composer Sam Leak. In this very different context Read was allotted a good deal of solo space and I was highly impressed by the fluency and dexterity of his playing.

Although inspired by Reinhardt the ten tracks on “Love Letters” don’t actually mine this rich, but by now overly familiar seam. Instead the programme embraces five original compositions, four of them written by Holborn, plus a handful of jazz and bebop standards, but not the usual gypsy jazz staples.

The album commences with the title track, a 1945 tune written by Victor Young with lyrics by Edward Heyman. It begins in surprisingly subdued fashion with the two guitars intertwining before springing into more familiar gypsy jazz territory with the rapid chug of the rhythms fuelling solos from Holborn and Kanani.

“Second Avenue”, written by Holborn is the first of the originals. The playful, stop-start motif hints at exotic locations and although the tune accelerates its progress is still quirky and jerky. There’s a pleasing sense of unpredictability about a piece that harbours further fluent solos from Holborn and Kanani.

“Chandra”, a blues written by the pianist Jaki Byard, is unfamiliar gypsy jazz fare but the quartet impose their own stamp on it. Also drawing on bebop influences the piece includes nimble solos from Read, Coullon, cutting loose for the first time, and Holborn. There’s a later set of exchanges between Holborn and Kahani before the guitarist takes over to wrap up a piece that features all four members of the group as soloists.

It’s back to the ‘Great American Songbook’ for the quartet’s take on “I’ll Be seeing You”, written by Sammy Fain with lyrics by Irving Kahal. The gypsy jazz arrangement evokes memories of Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France with Holborn playing the theme before handing over to the two guitarists who trade elegant solos, Kanani going first followed by Coullon.

The Holborn original “Thunkette” introduces elements of klezmer and North African music as it blends gypsy jazz with other musical styles. There’s an almost oud like quality about Kanani’s guitar solo with Holborn’s violin feature sounding similarly exotic. Intriguing and invigorating in equal measure this is one of the album’s stand out tracks.

The quartet display a gentler side of their collective musical personality with their sensitive ballad interpretation of the standard “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry” written by Jule Styne with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. Kanani sketches the melody while Holborn and Coullon supply the thoughtful and lyrical solos.

Holborn’s “Captain Summer” combines something of the quirkiness of his earlier compositions with more familiar Hot Club stylings to beguiling effect. The composer takes the first solo on violin followed by Coullon on guitar and finally Read at the bass.

“Whisper Not”, written by saxophonist Benny Golson, represents a dip into the classic jazz repertoire with an effective gypsy jazz interpretation that sounds perfectly natural and includes sparkling solos from Kanani and Holborn plus a pleasingly melodic excursion on the bass from Read.

Kanani takes over the compositional reins for “Koo Koo” which finds the guitarist doubling up with Holborn on the fast moving, boppish melody line as Coullon and Read pump out an energising rhythm. This in turn helps to fuel mercurial solos from Kanani and Holborn. This is virtuosic, wildly exciting stuff.

The album concludes on a gentler note with the Holborn composition “Our Laughing Heart”, a short ensemble piece with the plaintive, emotive sound of the composer’s violin in the foreground.
It’s a highly effective way to end a very good album.

There’s a lot of gypsy jazz around and in the last few years I’ve got to hear a lot of it. It has to be said that it can become rather clichéd with its many practitioners drawing on the same well of Django Reinhardt and related material.

Not so Latchepen, which is why their approach is so fresh and invigorating. Although obviously inspired by Django, Stephane et al there isn’t actually a Reinhardt tune on this album, and in my opinion it’s all the better for it. The playing is excellent throughout with a well balanced ensemble sound and some superb solos but the most refreshing thing is the quality of the original material. The writing of Holborn and Kahani is playful and inventive and offers something fresh and exciting while working broadly within the gypsy jazz template.

In addition the group’s interpretations of jazz, bebop and songbook material are also pleasingly cliché free with the quartet offering fresh insights into their well chosen material.

“Love Letters” is one of the most satisfying albums of its type that I’ve heard for quite a while.

Latchepen will be performing with Dutch vocalist Eva Scholten at Brasserie Zedel in London on 4th January 2018. Link here;
https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/eva-scholten-featuring-latchepen-jan-2018?date=119299777

 

 

Love Letters

Latchepen

Friday, December 15, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

Love Letters

Offers something fresh and exciting while working broadly within the gypsy jazz template. One of the most satisfying albums of its type that I’ve heard for quite a while.

Latchepen

“Love Letters”

(Blind Lemon Records)

Latchepen is a new London based quartet playing music inspired by Django Reinhardt and by Romani music in general. The group name comes from an exclamation expressing “happiness and contentment” in the Romani language.

I’m grateful to the group’s violinist, Yorkshire born, Scottish raised Matt Holborn, for forwarding me a review copy of this CD. I was previously familiar with Holborn’s playing after seeing performing as a guest with guitarist Remi Harris, the latter a regular presence on the Jazzmann web pages and something of a local hero as far as I’m concerned.

The Latchepen line up is completed by guitarists Kourash Kanani and Jeremie Coullon plus bassist Simon Read. Read is the second member of the group that I have seen performing live. He recently appeared at the Vortex in Dalston during the 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival as part of a trio led by pianist and composer Sam Leak. In this very different context Read was allotted a good deal of solo space and I was highly impressed by the fluency and dexterity of his playing.

Although inspired by Reinhardt the ten tracks on “Love Letters” don’t actually mine this rich, but by now overly familiar seam. Instead the programme embraces five original compositions, four of them written by Holborn, plus a handful of jazz and bebop standards, but not the usual gypsy jazz staples.

The album commences with the title track, a 1945 tune written by Victor Young with lyrics by Edward Heyman. It begins in surprisingly subdued fashion with the two guitars intertwining before springing into more familiar gypsy jazz territory with the rapid chug of the rhythms fuelling solos from Holborn and Kanani.

“Second Avenue”, written by Holborn is the first of the originals. The playful, stop-start motif hints at exotic locations and although the tune accelerates its progress is still quirky and jerky. There’s a pleasing sense of unpredictability about a piece that harbours further fluent solos from Holborn and Kanani.

“Chandra”, a blues written by the pianist Jaki Byard, is unfamiliar gypsy jazz fare but the quartet impose their own stamp on it. Also drawing on bebop influences the piece includes nimble solos from Read, Coullon, cutting loose for the first time, and Holborn. There’s a later set of exchanges between Holborn and Kahani before the guitarist takes over to wrap up a piece that features all four members of the group as soloists.

It’s back to the ‘Great American Songbook’ for the quartet’s take on “I’ll Be seeing You”, written by Sammy Fain with lyrics by Irving Kahal. The gypsy jazz arrangement evokes memories of Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Hot Club of France with Holborn playing the theme before handing over to the two guitarists who trade elegant solos, Kanani going first followed by Coullon.

The Holborn original “Thunkette” introduces elements of klezmer and North African music as it blends gypsy jazz with other musical styles. There’s an almost oud like quality about Kanani’s guitar solo with Holborn’s violin feature sounding similarly exotic. Intriguing and invigorating in equal measure this is one of the album’s stand out tracks.

The quartet display a gentler side of their collective musical personality with their sensitive ballad interpretation of the standard “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry” written by Jule Styne with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. Kanani sketches the melody while Holborn and Coullon supply the thoughtful and lyrical solos.

Holborn’s “Captain Summer” combines something of the quirkiness of his earlier compositions with more familiar Hot Club stylings to beguiling effect. The composer takes the first solo on violin followed by Coullon on guitar and finally Read at the bass.

“Whisper Not”, written by saxophonist Benny Golson, represents a dip into the classic jazz repertoire with an effective gypsy jazz interpretation that sounds perfectly natural and includes sparkling solos from Kanani and Holborn plus a pleasingly melodic excursion on the bass from Read.

Kanani takes over the compositional reins for “Koo Koo” which finds the guitarist doubling up with Holborn on the fast moving, boppish melody line as Coullon and Read pump out an energising rhythm. This in turn helps to fuel mercurial solos from Kanani and Holborn. This is virtuosic, wildly exciting stuff.

The album concludes on a gentler note with the Holborn composition “Our Laughing Heart”, a short ensemble piece with the plaintive, emotive sound of the composer’s violin in the foreground.
It’s a highly effective way to end a very good album.

There’s a lot of gypsy jazz around and in the last few years I’ve got to hear a lot of it. It has to be said that it can become rather clichéd with its many practitioners drawing on the same well of Django Reinhardt and related material.

Not so Latchepen, which is why their approach is so fresh and invigorating. Although obviously inspired by Django, Stephane et al there isn’t actually a Reinhardt tune on this album, and in my opinion it’s all the better for it. The playing is excellent throughout with a well balanced ensemble sound and some superb solos but the most refreshing thing is the quality of the original material. The writing of Holborn and Kahani is playful and inventive and offers something fresh and exciting while working broadly within the gypsy jazz template.

In addition the group’s interpretations of jazz, bebop and songbook material are also pleasingly cliché free with the quartet offering fresh insights into their well chosen material.

“Love Letters” is one of the most satisfying albums of its type that I’ve heard for quite a while.

Latchepen will be performing with Dutch vocalist Eva Scholten at Brasserie Zedel in London on 4th January 2018. Link here;
https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/eva-scholten-featuring-latchepen-jan-2018?date=119299777

 

 


blog comments powered by Disqus

JAZZ MANN FEATURES

EFG London Jazz Festival, Sunday November 19th 2017.

EFG London Jazz Festival, Sunday November 19th 2017.

Ian Mann witnesses the future of British jazz at the NYJO Jazz Jam and the JazzNewBlood showcase and loses himself in a spectacular Norwegian double bill featuring Sinikka Langeland and Jaga Jazzist.


EFG London Jazz Festival, Saturday November 18th 2017.

EFG London Jazz Festival, Saturday November 18th 2017.

Eclectic, Iklectik, Elektrik - Ian Mann on the penultimate day of the EFG London Jazz Festival.


JAZZ MANN RECOMMENDS