Joe Craven,
Django Latino
(Compass, 2006)

As many of us know, Django Reinhardt is the name of a very cool musician who serves as an elder statesman in the jazz genre and plays some excellent riffs with a group of young turks that play sporadic gigs in some smoky Little Havana club. Sadly, Django passed a long time ago and has left his beauteous light in the genius of Joe Craven, his heir. Add to this jambalaya of musica Latino the incredible string work of violinist Stephane Grapelli, also in the part of Heaven that is smokin' hot, and you will experience music that fires the soul and warms the body.

This hot CD starts with a bim bam boom from "Puerto Rico." Grapelle's unmistakable rhythms and tunes are sinuously played throughout the tropical rhythm of this first piece. Its tango elegance makes me wish all the more that I was dancing like all the stars in heaven over 1920 Cuba. The joy, tears and mood swings within this music and the pieces from Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Columbia and Spain, to name just a few, paint a mural of the colors and rhythms within each country, yet unite them with the mysticism and emotions one associates with Django and Stephane. In short, these songs give them life. The second piece, "Sweet Chorus," is dreamy smooth and sweet; a Cuba libre that soars and sings all the way to your heart.

Craven's brilliant playing and the fine musicians with him lead the listener down a winding path of sounds and feelings toward a melange of tastes and sounds that make the heart beat faster. This excellent CD makes one long for a slower time when music was hot, your soul was newer and discovery was just around the corner at the next bistro.

review by
Ann Flynt

29 March 2008

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