Stochelo Rosenberg Trio

Camelot Lounge, July 17 

Stochelo resThe acoustic guitar’s very familiarity makes hearing the parameters of what is possible on it suddenly redefined all the more startling. That Dutchman Stochelo Rosenberg has taken Django Reinhardt’s legacy to an almost absurd level of virtuosity was a given. Less expected was that his young French protege, Sebastien Giniaux, often had even more improbable sonic fireworks flaring and spitting from the other guitar, while German Joel Locher deployed commensurate facility on the double bass.

Such mind-bending virtuosity counts for nothing if not serving a deeper artistry, and Rosenberg and his colleagues have taken Reinhardt’s Gypsy swing legacy and treated it as a stylist and improvising language rather than an end-point. So there was Reinhardtesque bossa nova (Manha de Carnaval), soul (Isn’t She Lovely) and even a Reinhardtesque theme from The Godfather.

Mostly the repertoire centred around Reinhardt’s own compositions, plus a couple of Rosenberg’s, including the beguiling For Sephora. This exemplified the efficacy of his rounder sound and burnished tone in creating solos replete with warmth, despite the pyrotechnics. He also had a rare capacity for phrasing very fast lines so that they floated somewhat against the rhythm, and then snapped back on to the beat with a sting.

Giniaux, meanwhile, had a thinner, more trebly sound, but cleaner articulation, a wider array of improbable techniques and more daring ideas. Locher’s dazzling solos could be slightly hollow, but he certainly had the rhythms humming with momentum.

Both guitarists, however, faced the old problem that it is much harder to imbue lines of extreme velocity with what we might call the dynamic architecture – controlling the specific volume of each note in a run – on an acoustic guitar than it is on, say, a piano. Often the best music was slower and more lyrical, a point emphasised when local tenor saxophone master Eddie Bronson joined them on the Reinhardt classics Nuages and Minor Swing, and made torrential music with very few notes, a brimming heart and a magnificent tone.