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Hot Club of Cowtown

Dev'lish Mary – 2000 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Hot Club of Cowtown

Just as the band's title evokes the diverse images of Django Reinhardt and Bob Wills, Hot Club of Cowtown's third album features a mix of 1930's pop songs, finger-poppin' jazz tunes and western swing classics. Produced by Lloyd Maines, the collection demonstrates how the Austin-based trio can pull out all the stops while retaining an elegance to their playing.

Elana Fremerman's fiddle works overtime on tunes like "Devil's Dream," "Tchavolo Swing" and "The Wild Dog." Whit Smith's guitar playing, though seemingly smooth and effortless, is chock full of notes as well and keeps right up with the fiddling. New bassist Matt Weiner provides a tastefully understated beat, but he is also given the chance to showcase his bowing and slapping skills (on "The Wild Dog" and "Just a Little Lovin,'" respectively). Steel guitarist Bobby Koefer and cornet player Peter Ecklund are featured on a few numbers, and Don Walser adds some yodel to "When the Bloom is on the Sage."

Delving into the archives of popular song serves the group well; their interpretations are neither overtly nostalgic nor too modern to fit the songs' styles. Their original contributions to the album (Smith's "More Than a Dream" and Fremerman's "I'd Understand Why"), unfortunately, are not as strong. All in all, however, Cowtown's Hot Club will set your feet to nonstop tapping.