Yoxfest: Spirit of Django

Martin Taylor's Spirit of Django: St Peter's Church, Yoxford, August 19

Martin Taylor's Spirit of Django: St Peter's Church, Yoxford, August 19

Is it possible to be nostalgic for the Nineties only seven years into the new century? Why, certainly, when one of your favourite groups of that decade unexpectedly and joyfully reconvenes to play the first major performance of the fifth Yoxford Festival (or Yoxfest) in the delightful surroundings of St Peter's Church.

Three enchanting CDs recorded for the Scottish Linn label between 1994 and 1996 comprise the discography of Martin Taylor's Spirit of Django, a band formed to pay homage to the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and to create a new contemporary sound inspired by him. Martin is in turn one of the world's greatest guitar players and an inspirational choice by the Yoxfest committee to perform two sets before a highly appreciative capacity audience.

The quintet comprised Taylor, his son James on what his father described as “the bare essentials of light percussion”, Terry Gregory on acoustic bass guitar, John Goldie on acoustic rhythm guitar and the doyen of accordion players, Jack Emblow. You'll know Jack's accordion sound better than you might think: the themes to “The Last Of The Summer Wine” and “Sing Something Simple” comprise his “hits”, as Martin amusingly remarked.

At Yoxford the emphasis fell upon tunes from the first of those three CDs instead and Reinhardt's “Swing 42” and “Nuages” - with Terry's deep resonant bass playing a highlight - and Martin's own composition “Chez Fernand” quickly set the gentle mood evocative of the Hot Club, Django and Stephane Grappelli, whose violin graced three tracks of the group's second disc. “Honeysuckle Rose” found both band and audience having fun as the evening light fell at St Peter's.

Taylor began the second set with an elegant medley to demonstrate his virtuoso solo playing before rekindling more memories with a duet with Emblow - those of you who've caught their shows at the Boxford Fleece know that theirs is magical partnership.

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The empathy amongst the five musicians made it hard to believe that this was their first gig in some eighteen months in what appears to be an occasional project for Martin Taylor between his other solo, duo and band engagements. A glance at his website reveals only one more Spirit of Django date in his busy schedule - at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands in late September. The EADT advises that you should be there.

Donald Muir

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