Album Review: Hot Club of Cowtown — Rendezvous in Rhythm

Juli Thanki | July 1st, 2013

hotclubofcowtownrendezvousAnyone wanting to discern Hot Club of Cowtown’s musical influences can do so before listening to a single note the trio plays: their band name is a mashup of gypsy jazz kings Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s Quintette du Hot Club de France and Western Swing legend Bob Wills’ “Big Ball’s in Cowtown.” On their newest album, Rendezvous in Rhythm, the group focuses mainly on their jazz roots (consider it a companion piece to their last album, the delightful Western Swing record What Makes Bob Holler).

They deliver an irresistible take on “Minor Swing,” the gypsy jazz tune that’s become a favorite for bluegrassers, with each musician nimbly weaving through deft solos, and jaunty album closer “Douce Ambiance” is an auditory time machine, transporting the listener back to 1930s Paris. Multiple selections from the Great American Songbook pop up on the album as well. Elana James leads the band through “Melancholy Baby,” and “Slow Boat to China,” while guitarist Whit Smith takes over lead singer duties for a sweet version of “I’m in the Mood for Love.” The Hot Club even puts their own jazzy spin on Russian folk song “Ochi Chornye” (“Dark Eyes”), which begins softly before building to a frenzied, yet intricate crescendo.

Though The Hot Club is one of those acts whose genre-melding music is best experienced at a live show—preferably one with a sizeable dance floor–as opposed to listening on the  car stereo or iPod, any rendezvous with this band is a whirlwind journey that’s worth taking.

3.5 Stars

Preview or purchase Rendezvous in Rhythm

  1. Rick
    July 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I just love to see this band perform live and usually get to see them at least once per year. Swing dancers just plum wear themselves out at the Hot Club’s live shows to be sure.

    I purchased this CD from the band back in April and although it is enjoyable I’ll admit to being spoiled by their earlier recordings (well excluding the two previous albums to Rendezvous anyway). Thankfully the production sounds good this go round unlike the last couple of low budget indie efforts.

    If someone was looking to buy an introductory album, I’d recommend the “Ghost Train” CD from some years back. In terms of the songs and recorded sound, that album falls somewhere between charming and mesmerizing. I never get tired of listening through it. Go Hot Club!

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