www.cafe-music.com : larry urbon :: note manouche @ samois 2002 :

Note Manouche

Mandino Reinhardt: solo guitar
Marcel Loeffler: accordion
Gerald Muller: bass
Joselito Loeffler: rhythm guitar

DJAZ Records (DJ 714-2)

Back in the early spring, when the lineup of performers for the 2000 Django Reinhardt Festival in Samois-sur-Seine was set, I decided that this would be the year that I’d finally attend the Festival. A few friends in-the-know had told me that this was going to be one of the best schedules that Samois had had yet, and lured by the likes of Bireli Lagrene, Marcel Azzola, and especially by prospect of finally seeing the legendary Titi Winterstein Ensemble, I took the plunge.

“For this Djangophile, Note Manouche was the real deal, and I highly recommend their CD.”

After being “rescued” from a transportation snafu at Charles DeGaulle Aeroport by the Forte’s, I settled in at Fontainebleau, and headed to Samois for the first night’s events. Jam sessions had quickly sprung up as everyone had said they would. I particularly remember one young gypsy that Friday evening just tearing up the guitar, and I thought, oh my, so this is how it’s gonna be. I’ll just put my own guitar away for awhile.

On Saturday evening, while anxiously awaiting the appearance by Titi’s group, I was interested to give a listen to Note Manouche, from Strasbourg in Alsace. I’d only heard of Mandino Reinhardt and Marcel Loeffler before, and this being the first group on the schedule to have an accordionist, I thought I’d better check this out. To my surprise, one of the folks now on the stage was that gypsy player who’d earlier forced my Anastasio into retirement. It was Joselito Loeffler, and he was just the rhythm player!

Note Manouche proceeded to play what I felt was musically the most exciting set of the whole Festival. Mandino was the best gypsy jazz guitarist on the Samois stage this year, and Marcel’s playing was electrifying. I’d videotaped the group’s performance, and one particular extended solo by Marcel still gives me chills, as many times as I’ve replayed it. Almost all of the material performed came from their beautiful CD, and was composed either by Mandino or Marcel, most definitely Manouche, but with contemporary styling.

If you enjoy the compositions and playing of Romane, you’ll love Note Manouche. There are the catchy, halting heads (Sur les Ponts de Venise, Vision d’Automne), beautiful melodies (A Long Travel), waltzes (Le Flair de Celmar), and some really groovy swing (Complices, Leske). But in Note Manouche, there are two powerful soloists dividing time equally, stretching out over their innovative forms. One exciting section of Sur les Ponts de Venise features Gerald Muller accelerating on the bass to launch Marcel into a blistering, Eastern sounding solo, then a deceleration, then back to the very intricate melody played in unison by Mandino and Marcel.

Mandino and Marcel used to play together in a group called “Sweet Chorus”, recordings of which are now unavailable. Marcel has a solo CD called “Vago” and is just completing another solo project. Contact Gerald by email for details about their individual.projects.

The Festival was wonderful, with other musical surprises like Maurizio Geri’s Swingtet, Gilbert Leroux’s Washboard Group, and the incredible Sylvain Luc, but for this Djangophile, Note Manouche was the real deal, and I highly recommend their CD.

Reviewed by Larry Urbon for Just Jazz Guitar.

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