Spyglass Gypsies album




spy resGypsy music is proliferating like a plague in Australia, the quality swinging between banal and sublime, with both camps including copyists and freer thinkers. That Spyglass Gypsies extricate themselves from the pack is largely thanks to their original songs. These come from all five members, and while each composer has differing quirks and flairs, it adds up to a cohesive body of work. Despite the band’s music being rooted in the Django Reinhardt tradition, one of the most striking pieces is Balkan-flavoured: bassist Shannon Haritos’s rapid-fire Ricochet, the sizzling melody of which is matched by the improvising’s spit and crackle.

As good as Andrew Scott (accordion) and Loretta Palmeiro (clarinet, soprano saxophone) are, it is Cameron Jones and Richard Ashby’s guitars that further define this band. Their rhythm playing gives the songs bounce, where so many guitarists attempting such music make the rhythms wooden. Ashby’s ability to be elegantly melodic whether travelling at velocity (his own Well, That’s It, or over more lilting terrain (Palmeiro’s Longe) is also a hallmark. The band is at its best when scything a distinctive path, rather than playing “generic Gypsy” without the requisite spark.