Devil's Tale - Adrian Raso and Fanfare Ciocarlia
All the pentagrams, skeletons and even Mephistopheles himself, astride a black horse on the cover of Devil's Tale would suggest that this collaboration by Canadian gypsy jazz guitarist, Adrian Raso and Romania's Fanfare Ciocarlia was a match made somewhere south of heaven. But, in fact, the result is quite divine. As Garth Cartwright's excellent liner notes attest, "The Romanians and the Canadian have created a sound that rips and swings and roars." Fanfare are the quintessential Roma wedding band; a brass attack of break-neck speed, syncopation and punctuation. Subtlety is not a trait they are commonly renowned for. Conversely, Raso is a dedicated student of Django Reinhardt's gypsy jazz; blindingly fast as well and intricate in solos and outside the box chords. Both entities came to the project with a desire to broaden their vocabularies in meaningful ways, apart from the modernizing whitewash of loops and electronics. Therein, new subtleties indeed come to the fore. The Balkan brass machine takes time to feature individual voices, lingering in slower passages while the guitarist, breaks out the banjo for rootsier feels or plugs in for some Dwayne Eddy twang and rockabilly. Have a look at the excellent animated video for the opener, Urn St. Tavern for a shining example. Most impressive are the tracks that cross south of the border, where gypsy jazz meets flamenco guitar while Roma brass flirts in a mariachi style. Check out Quattro Cicci and the title track. A Latin nod also comes from guest picker, Rodrigo of Rodrigo y Gabriela note and fellow Canadian guitarist John Jorgenson (who also blows a sweet licorice stick). Drummer Kevin Figueiredo from American heavy rockers, Extreme provides all the kick that's needed to beat the devil at the crossroads honestly without tricks or gimmicks.