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Hot Club of Cowtown

Rendezvous in Rhythm – 2013 (Proper)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Hot Club of Cowtown

Hot Club of Cowtown abandon their usual mix of western swing and jazz to deliver a full out jazz album on "Rendezvous in Rhythm." There are plenty of instantly recognizable standards, such as I'm in the Mood for Love, Sweet Sue, Just You and If I Had You.

The band's instrumental virtuosity is on display throughout, particularly on Minor Swing on which guitarist Whit Smith and violinist Elana James do their best Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, with Jake Erwin contributing some nice thumping bass licks as well. Other impressive instrumentals are the traditional Dark Eyes and Reinhardt's Douce Ambiance.

The stronger tracks include a pair of Al Jolson tunes Avalon, which had previously appeared in a longer version on the band's compilation album "Rare and Unreleased," and Back In Your Own Backyard. Other highlights are playful takes on Crazy Rhythm and Slow Boat to China.

With their previous release "What Makes Bob Holler" saluting Bob Wills and their western swing roots, this release focuses on Hot Club of Cowtown's jazz influences. With stellar musicianship, pleasant vocals and nicely chosen material, this is an entertaining collection.