DJANGO Reinhardt popularised a hybrid sound that had more in common with European gipsy music rather than American jazz.
It became known as Hot Club, although it has to be said that the temperature could fluctuate somewhat. Evan Christopher’s genius is to skilfully maintain the heat level first established by the great guitarist and then adding a generous dose of New Orleans Tabasco and giving it all a good shake.
And once the mix is complete, we quickly move from domestic oven to blast furnace. For Christopher is about the nearest you can get these days to Big Easy legend Sidney Bechet – when it comes to describing the eloquence of his clarinet style, there is about a cigarette paper’s width between the two men’s approach.
Taking his instrument not so much off the scale but also into orbit, his combination of breakneck swing speeds and lurching New Orleans street rhythms makes for a powerful, spice-heavy gumbo.
The empathy between clarinet and guitars is a conversational style of interplay that intrigues as much as it impresses the listener, cross-currents of voicing that weave in and out of the story.
For example, the tender whispers of Douce Ambience rapidly make way for the strident shout of Riverboat Shuffle, while the stately march of Solid Old Man immediately evokes the memory of piano ‘professor’ Jelly Roll Morton.
Interestingly, the band managed to breathe new life into Buddy Bolden’s Blues, the banjo substituted for the guitar in the name of authenticity. This neatly demonstrated that antiquity was no barrier when it came to the inspirational treatment of an ancient tune.
This concert - a blend of two noble musical forms - was without doubt a marriage made in heaven and I look forward to the band’s return to the Huntingdon Hall.