On a recent trip to Europe, a friend of mine who was not accustomed to European gypsy acoustic jazz guitar chanced upon some, and asked a friend, "What kind of music do you call this?" To which is friend excitedly replied, "Why, that's jazz
Beginning with Django Reinhardt, the Europeans have long associated classical acoustic guitar with jazz, and Raphael Fays is one of the most accomplished musicians in this esteemed tradition. As with fellow gypsy guitarist Angelo Debarre, Fays also bears a passing resemblance to his mentor. Debarre's musical journey has included fifteen albums as well as work with renowned Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia and legendary violinist Stephan Grappelli. In addition to jazz, Debarre has established himself as a prominent interpreter of classical works from Bach, Sor, and Villa-Lobos.
In this set, Fays' guitar stylings are set against the backdrop of the Paris Opera Orchestra, whose lush arrangements provide a soft romantic element to his playing. Guitar Romance
includes a number of traditional romantic pieces, six originals, and several tunes closely associated with Django - "Nuages", "Manoir De Mes Reves", and "Minor Swing." Holding true to tradition, these three Reinhardt compositions are performed with an (unnamed) trio of rhythm guitar and bass.
If you are a listener to traditional bebop guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, and Barney Kessel, but are unfamiliar with the European gypsy style of guitar jazz, this CD is an excellent place to start. Raphael Fays' superior musicianship and impeccable technique certainly place him among the top guitarists working today.