Many groups think of themselves as jazz bands, especially when they offer just a teeny dose of improv, or swing, or interaction or any of the other basic elements of the art form. Some are content to operate on the music’s fuzzy boundaries.
This trio could be classified as neo-jazz – they certainly aren’t purveyors of smooth jazz. The Sultans Of String do global music in which you’ll detect Flamenco, Roma, Arab, Cuban and Brazilian elements as well as plentiful grooves on their third album Move (Indie MCK 2050 www.sultansofstring.com). It’s a polished affair of 12 cuts with much colourful atmosphere, savage to sweet execution and terrific violin work from leader Chris McKhool. At his side are guitarists Kevin Laliberte and Eddie Paton, bass Drew Birston and sterling percussionist Chendy Leon as well as an army of guests. There’s much to enjoy from the Afro-Spanish blend of Andalucia to the lively Emerald Swing and the ultra-jazzy Ernie’s Bounce - and stuff to avoid (a cloying Heart of Gold for instance) – but overall it’s fun, if perhaps a little too polished.
The Boxcar Boys offer a dozen tracks and interesting instrumentation on Don’t Be Blue (Indie www.theboxcarboys.ca) with Rob Teehan, sousaphone, John David Williams, clarinet and composer of eight tunes, Karl Silveira, trombone, Laura Bates, violin and Ronen Segall, accordion. There’s vintage jazz, humour, Klezmer, blues, hillbilly vocals and more here, and you surely can dance to this circus music.
Halifax-based Gypsophilia (not to be confused with US band of the same name) is seven-strong. They all sing and play multiple instruments on Constellation (FMG026 www.gypsophilia.org), an album that expands on their fondness for Django Reinhardt. The 11 tunes, all by band members, are all distinctly different, a movie score perhaps with its touches of bop, classical, whimsy and waltzes. If these troubadours return to the GTA, go see.