Evan Christopher – Fapy Lafertin Quartet

From either side of the Atlantic, two greats of the music world.

Evan Christopher and Fapy Lafertin have received accolades the world over. Not just through their musicianship, both are considered true ambassadors for their music, nurturing the musical traditions that have played an essential part of their respective cultures. Lafertin is an institution! Studied by many and widely thought of as the rightful heir to Django’s crown. Christopher, a powerhouse of sound, swing and invention.

The new CD materialised from a much acclaimed concert at the Festival Django Reinhardt south of Paris in 2018. It includes tunes from that performance such as J’attendrai, Wild Man Blues, In a sentimental Mood and After you’ve gone alongside compositions of Evan Christopher Old Sober March, and A Summit in Paris and Lafertin’s Cinzano and Plachterida.

Rhythm section is Dave Kelbie on guitar and Sebastien Girardot on bass, accompanists to many in the jazz and Gypsy jazz world, Django a la Creole, John Etheridge, Tcha Limberger, Mozes Rosenberg amongst others.

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PERSONNEL

EVAN CHRISTOPHER – Clarinet
FAPY LAFERTIN – Guitar
DAVE KELBIE – Guitar
SEBASTIEN GIRARDOT – Double Bass


PRESS

a record that lets you listen… with infinite happiness. JAZZ HOT FRANCE
the marriage between Evan’s Creole expressiveness and the feeling at the Django of Fapy works to perfection! MICHEL LAPLACE FRANCE
Lafertin is the legitimate heir to Django’s crown. BOB WILBUR USA
[Evan] is, in my estimation, not only the greatest jazz clarinetist alive, but one of the greatest of all time. AHMET ERTEGUN, FOUNDING CHAIRMAN OF ATLANTIC RECORDS
Bass solos full of a beautiful authority COULEURS JAZZ FR
Dave Kelbie’s rhythm guitar is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. CLASSICA FRANCE
Fapy has a sound that might even have made Django envious … a mature guitarist at his peak VINTAGE GUITAR MAGAZINE USA
A forthright sound and a hungry energy NEW YORK TIMES
remarkable bassist Sébastien Giradot, who contributes more than solid rhythmic accompaniment, brilliantly showcased on the spectacular title tune of this album of rare beauty. ALL ABOUT JAZZ USA
[Dave Kelbie] the rhythmic rumbling of a folksy freight train. JAZZ DA GAMA USA
in the history of jazz, he [Christopher] will be amidst the greatest of all times JAZZ CLASSIQUE FRANCE

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REVIEWS

OFFBEAT MAGAZINE USA 26.12.2019
Evan Christopher-Fapy Lafertin. A Summit in Paris
On A Summit in Paris clarinetist Evan Christopher joins his contemporary, early jazz stylings with the Django-worthy technique of guitarist Fapy Laftertin to honor both Reinhardt and several pioneers of early New Orleans jazz.
Both musicians are masters of their craft and deftly move through 13 songs chosen specifically to blend the influences of New Orleans’ early jazz legends with Django’s gypsy style. These include Louis Armstrong’s “Wild Man Blues” and “Swing That Music”; Sidney Bechet’s “Bechet’s Fantasy” and “Little Creole Lullaby”; the standards “In a Sentimental Mood” and “After You’ve Gone”; and Django’s own “Clair de Lune” and “Sweet Chorus.” They’ve also slipped in four original tunes: Christopher’s “Old Sober March” and “A Summit in Paris” as well as Lafertin’s “Cinzano” and “Plachterida.” Solidly backing the formidable duo are Sebastien Girardot on bass and Dave Kelbie on guitar.
Christopher and Lafertin have dedicated themselves to their respective stylistic influences and to great effect. On this album they impressively channel these legends of the past, creating for us the fantasy scenarios we can only dream of: Bechet with the manouches, Django in the Big Easy.
STACEY LEIGH BRIDEWELL

SYNCOPATED TIMES 26.12.2019
Evan Christopher-Fapy Lafertin. A Summit in Paris
After Hurricane Katrina clarinetist Evan Christopher spent two years in Paris exploring the legacy of Django Reinhardt. The result was a band joining Christopher’s classic New Orleans jazz style, Gypsy jazz, and dashes of Caribbean flavor.
Django à la Créole was a phenomenon. Their 2008 album received rave reviews from all corners. Another album followed, and extensive touring produced a live set. All the while Christopher, who has been called one of the great jazz clarinetists of all time, maintained the New Orleans style of play in his other band, Clarinet Road. He was on our cover in August 2017.
This past July he was back in a Paris recording studio. The Reinhardt inspired lineup is the same as the previous albums with one tremendous exception, it’s the reason this album doesn’t wear the Django à la Créole name. Instead of guitarists Dave Blenkhorn or Don Vappie, who appeared previously, Christopher’s primary interlocutor is Fapy Lafertin.
To those who have never explored the Django revival this name may be unfamiliar. To those steeped in this music it won’t be. Lafertin was born in a Romani/Manouche community in Belgium and began learning guitar as soon as he could hold one. Since interest in Django Reinhardt began to flower in the 70s he’s been a leading guitarist in a movement where guitar is king. Some have said he surpasses Django himself, not only in technical skill, but in artistry.
The other members of this quartet are Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar and Sebastion Girardot on double bass. Kelbie’s professional focus has been as an accompanist to great jazz soloists, and among many he has frequently partnered with Lafertin for over twenty years. Girardot is a member of Three Blind Mice, La Section Rythmique and several other steady groups. You couldn’t ask for a better support team.
The heart of this album is Christopher’s haunting clarinet playing. There is less fancy fretwork than you might expect, and it contains fewer fiery passages than the previous efforts, leaning more American and less Caribbean. The revelation is the beauty of clarinet over strings, and the compelling nature of the lead guitar, rarely heard outside of the French styles. If Sidney Bechet had recorded with Django’s trio while both were in France the result may have sounded something like this.
Part of the way the styles are merged is through track selections, much as might have happened in our fantasy meeting. Louis Armstrong is present in “Wild Man Blues” and “Swing That Music”. Two of the tracks are Bechet’s, “Little Creole Lullaby” and “Bechet’s Fantasy”. Only two of the titles are strongly associated with Django Reinhardt. The lean of the compositions towards New Orleans, or at least American jazz makes this a different animal from a typical hot club album. It’s all about the possibilities, the opportunity for exchange inherent in collective improvisation.
Christopher and Lafertin are a marvelous pairing, weaving and building counterpoints across jazz worlds. Each contributes two originals to this thirteen track album — over an hour of surprises. I recommend it to traditional jazz fans who seek to stick a toe in the water and explore the Jazz Manouche style, or those raised at Django festivals who want to ease themselves into trad jazz. While this summit may not tear you away from your favorite camp, it’s a worthy undertaking none the less.
JOE BEBCO

JAZZ HOT 12.12.2019
Evan Christopher-Fapy Lafertin. A Summit in Paris Dans ce nouvel album Evan Christopher poursuit dans la lignée de son Django à la Créole (2008). Cette fois, c’est en compagnie d’un héritier de Django Reinhardt, Fapy Lafertin. On sait que Django avait remplacé le violon de Stéphane Grappelli par la clarinette d’Hubert Rostaing, Maurice Meunier ou Gérard Lévêcque. Pas d’hérésie donc! La rencontre Sidney Bechet-Django Reinhardt aurait pu se faire en 1949-53, d’autant plus que tous deux ont oeuvré pour le même label, Vogue. Fapy Lafertin (1950) est considéré comme l’un des principaux représentants actuels du «jazz manouche» belgo-néerlandais. Il a débuté la guitare à l’âge de 5 ans, il a eu l’occasion de jouer avec Benny Waters et, brièvement, Stéphane Grappelli.
Dès «Wild Man Blues», qui salue Louis Armstrong mais aussi Johnny Dodds, le mariage entre l’expressivité créole d’Evan et le feeling à la Django de Fapy marche à la perfection! La sonorité charnue et boisé d’Evan Christopher évoque Dodds, une trille à la Jimmie Noone près. Dans ce titre qui ouvre le programme, Sébastien Girardot prend un excellent solo. Evan et Fapy rivalisent de vitalité et de dextérité. En avril 1947, Django a enregistré son «Claire de Lune» avec Michel de Villers (cl) et Willy Lockwood (b, un parent de Didier). Nous avons là une belle version qui comme dans l’originale est introduite de main de maître par la guitare solo avant de passer le relais à une clarinette rêveuse dont la magie n’opère que si la sonorité a le charme nécessaire. Ce qui est ici le cas. L’atout de la sonorité chaude, profonde de cette clarinette dérivée des maîtres louisianais fait aussi le prix de cette version sur tempo paisible d’«After You’ve Gone». Evan Christopher dispose d’une belle homogénéité du registre du grave à aigu. A noter l’effet de surprise bien venu de l’arrêt brusque du solo de Fapy avant la reprise du thème qui clôt ce bel échange entre la clarinette et la guitare. C’est en octobre 1936 que Django a gravé pour Gramophone ce «Sweet Chorus» avec Stéphane Grappelli, Joseph Reinhardt, Baro Ferret et Louis Vola, sur un tempo plus enlevé que la présente version. La clarinette plaintive d’Evan Christopher est un substitut parfait au classicisme distingué de Grappelli. Fapy Lafertin est totalement dans l’esprit du monstre sacré Django. L’interaction Evan-Fapy balance bien, et les pieds s’activent. La superbe ballade «In a Sentimental Mood» de Duke Ellington donne à Fapy Lafertin l’occasion d’offrir un solo flamboyant et plein de lyrisme. La qualité de timbre d’Evan Christopher n’est pas sans évoquer celle du regretté Bob Wilber. C’est en janvier 1941 que Sidney Bechet enregistre sa «Egyptian Fantasy» pour RCA avec Red Allen. Moins connu et au piano, Bechet a remis ça à New Orleans pour John Reid en juin 1944 avec la source de la clarinette néo-orléanaise: Alphonse Picou et Big Eye Louis Nelson. La présente version permet d’entendre un solo concis et efficace de Sébastien Girardot avant une impressionnante envolée de Christopher. «J’attendrai» enregistré par Rina Ketty en 1938 est l’adaptation d’une chanson italienne (musique de Dino Olivieri) et elle fait aussi penser à Django filmé en jouant ce titre en 1939 avec son Quintette du HCF. De ce fait c’est devenu un classique de la «musique à Django» défendu par Fapy Lafertin (1996), Raphaël Faÿs (2000), Jimmy Rosenberg (2000), Angelo Debarre (2007)…et d’autres. La présente version n’est pas la plus négligeable. Le «Swing That Music» lancé en 1938 par Louis Armstrong reste inégalable bien que le quartet délivre beaucoup de swing dans son adaptation (bon solo de Sébastien Girardot). Enfin, «Little Creole Lullaby» de Sidney Bechet, qui a été enregistré par Claude Luter en 1961 (Vogue 45-880), n’est pas sans évoquer «La Rosita» de Paul Dupont enregistrée par Eddie South (décembre 1927) puis par Coleman Hawkins et Ben Webster ensemble (octobre 1957). Cette jolie mélodie figure aussi dans l’album Spreadin’ Joy de Bob Wilber dans la continuité duquel s’inscrit Evan Christopher. A côté de ces classiques du jazz, le tandem nous propose des thèmes originaux. Signés Evan Christopher nous avons «Old Sober March» qui swingue bien pour une marche (solo de guitare totalement dans le style de Django inflexions comprises), «A Summit in Paris» (tempo médium propice à laisser chanter la clarinette). Signés Fapy Lafertin nous découvrons «Plachterida» (introduction hispanisante avant de nous faire danser le tango –le spanish tinge cher à Jelly Roll Morton), «Cinzano» (tourbillon d’une virtuosité valsée). Un disque qui se laisse écouter avec plaisir.
MICHEL LAPLACE

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