Guitarist Bireli Lagrene spent his teenage years sounding very close in style to Django Reinhardt. For this German import, his second recording, the 14-year old romps in Djangoish fashion on such tunes as "Djangology," "Lady Be Good" and "Nuages" but also was starting to show some individuality on his own originals. Most of the selections are performed with one or two rhythm guitarists and a bassist, all Europeans. Lagrene has since grown as a player; if only he had had the opportunity this early to record with violinist Stephane Grappelli before his own style changed.
Sara Lazarus is in no hurry. After the Delaware-born French emigré won first prize at the 1994 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she waited over a decade to record her debut, 2005's Give Me the Simple Life. To the benefit of jazz listeners, she didn't wait long to record a followup: It's All Right With Me finds the singer once again taking her time and making every word count, as if to imbue each syllable with the deepest possible meaning. The result is a fresh take on classic songs that avoids overindulgent flashiness. Like her debut, which covered the well-worn theme of love, It's All Right With Me recalls the Frank Sinatra concept albums of yesteryear. Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (Warner Brothers, 1967) comes to mind, but instead of bossa nova, Lazarus has opted for gypsy-influenced jazz, finding ideal support in Bireli Lagrène's Gipsy Project...
When Biréli Lagrène's Routes to Django: Live was issued in 1980, the 13-year-old jazz guitarist was immediately praised by critics as a protégé of Django Reinhardt. He had already won a prize in a festival at Strasbourg in 1978, and his appearance at a Gypsy festival was broadcast on television.
The occasion for this trio to work together was a 2010 concert that celebrated violinist Jean-Luc Ponty's 50th anniversary as a recording artist. Both the violinist and Stanley Clarke had collaborated before (a previous electric trio set with Al Di Meola, the Rite Of Strings was issued in 1995), but neither had collaborated with French jazz guitarist Bireli Lagrene prior to that evening. In playing for a mere 20 minutes, they created the impetus for D-Stringz – though it took two years for them to clear their schedules and get into a Brussels studio. These ten tunes are an assortment of standards and originals. The album is an acoustic, straight-ahead date that employs flawless swinging bop and post-bop, as well as 21st century takes on gypsy and soul-jazz and funk.