The French gypsy jazz group Caravan Palace has a new cd out, called Panic. It is terribly cool and fun to listen to. The musical magic is evident on every one of the 14 cuts.
Caravan Palace burst upon the scene in the summer of 2010, both performing at KCRW with me hosting, and doing a very memorable show at the wonderful Water Court at California Plaza, part of Grand Performances always brilliant and free summer music festival. (http://www.grandperformances.org/gp/homepage.html) I say memorable because when the lead singer, Sonia Fernandez Velasco, couldn’t coax more energy out of the crowd, she just went into the water. And invited the crowd to join her. Poor Michael Alexander, who directs Grand Performances and was very worried about somebody getting electrocuted, almost had a meltdown. It was one of the best shows of the summer, no doubt.
Caravan Palace is unique because they really know how to balance gypsy swing with modern electronics and production effects. The sound never has the relentless automation of house music, yet always puts that little extra edge on the bass and other effects to make it more exciting. The rhythm is insistent but never heavy or over-weighted. The musicianship is second to none. And of course there is the authenticity: the Django Reinhart Selmer Maccaferri guitar sound, the manouche rhythms. It’s all there for both gypsy swing traditionalists as well as the young hip crowd that loves KCRW’s music.
Here is very sweet video that accompanied their first state side release in 2010, the eponymously titled Caravan Palace.
and a more recent video–totally delightful–from the new album Panic: