Although many musicians strictly adhere to its tried-and-tested patterns, gypsy or manouche jazz has actually been cross-border from the start. After all, the mutual influence of pioneer Django Reinhardt and his modern jazz contemporaries is plain as day. Is there anything more beautiful and timeless than Nuages? Obviously the birth of a child. But a violet in the youth of primy nature? Open for debate.
Perhaps the definition of the beauty of Café Dynamite, the second album of manouche duo Gypsy Dynamite, should be found between Nuages and the violet. Unmistakably, a number of songs turn on an irresistible and unforgettable charm. Giulio Romano Malaisi and Filippo Dall’Asta, who complete their Gypsy Dynamite line-up with bassist Umberto Calentini, are two incredibly talented Italian guitarists based in London. Their debut record, Live At Le Quecum Bar, was released in 2015.
It is not a coincidence that the title once again refers to a catering establishment. Considering the jaunty vibe of their repertoire, the intimate setting of bar or club is the band’s natural habitat. But some of Gypsy Dynamite’s emotionally charged songs transcend place, and virtuosity is radiated all over in a way that is not dexterous for dexterity’s sake but brims with melancholy, as befits serious manouche. Mocheville is a bouncy blues-based melody bookended by a modal part that brings to mind So What and marked by supple bass intermezzi by the remarkably strong and creative Calentini. Dall’Asta and Romano Mailasi play off Dead End’s spun-out melody line with a barrage of consecutive single lines, deepened by the former’s subtle octaves and the latter’s roguish piece of rubato. Dead End, full of quicksilver transitional chords and forceful guitar tones, is but one example of Dall’Asta and Romana Malaisi’s remarkable symbiosis.
The Ella and Louis homage of Laugh Often, highlighting singers Francesca Confortini and Dominique Durner, is a lovely crowdpleaser. Minor quibble is that it interrupts the album’s enchanting instrumental flow, which climaxes with The Unstable Kind, a sparkling mood piece in the vein of Pat Metheny’s stark beauties. Might Mr. Metheny by any chance get wind of The Unstable Kind, he will no doubt like all of us be thrilled by the passion of Dall’Asta and Romano Malaisi’s stories.
Dead End; Parisian Avenue; Café Dynamite; After Vera; Mocheville; Stray Cat; Laugh Often; The Unstable Kind; A Clear Morning; Eclissi (47.32)
Giulio Romano Malaisi & Filippo Dall’Asta (g); Umberto Calentini (b); Dominique Durner & Francesca Confortini (v, #7). London, 2019.