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Electric Side
Bireli Lagrene
Electric Side
Genres: World Music, Jazz


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All Artists: Bireli Lagrene
Title: Electric Side
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Release Date: 9/16/2008
Album Type: Import
Genres: World Music, Jazz
Styles: Europe, Continental Europe, Eastern Europe, European Jazz
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1

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The GREATEST guitarrista, the uneven recording
Peppino | 11/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Quite simple, for me, Biréli LaGréne , if I had to choose, the world's greatest guitarrista, ...EVER! Case closed, story told.

A child prodigy, making Django-sounds before he hit puberty, Biréli is one of the few musicians who play the instrument more than "the instrument playes him"! Magari! I wish I so lucky!

He plays any and all styles, with incredible harmonic concept, a melodic and ritmic mastery , measured by flawless technique.

He plays sometime "too fast", but not to be a "flash guitarrista", but because, like top line professional ateletes, for ex, are calibrated to "warp speed"(as a Star Treks fan might say), everything moves faster for these people!

Consistant inventiveness in solo approach , and beautiful chord choices to the stars are destroyed only here on this CD by some bad choices in composing. A 4 beat to the bar disco , some unneeded hip hop influences, but , even at the worse of it, the incredible concept of Biréli shine thru!

This recording features one MAGNIFICENT track, it is the 3rd (maybe4th?) version of his Jaco-inspired (inspired by Jaco the 'composer') "timoteé"!

Here, augmented by saxofone and piano, multi track voices and over dub guitar solo(He also takes solo on eletric bass), and this in the "Jaco the bassist" moda, he finishes off this beautiful but simple melodia with a piano solo over samba, before a gentle guitar chord -melody coda.

This composition and rendering of it ALMOST woth the incredible HIGH price of the cd.

So, all in all, if you a "straight ahead" jazz aficionado, you might HATE 3/4 this recording,a lover of all great sounds, no matter the idioma will fare better.

Be warned, this not a perfect recording, it is stylistically too diverse for uncompromising and parochial ears.

but anything by the "greatest guitarrista ever" is worth to listen, no?

PLEASENOTE -- There are many of these tracks recorded previously on the superlative "Foreign Affairs" CD on Blue Note. These are different renditions of the same compositions. Also, NO Gipsi Jazz Project sounds here, Biréli é um animal , and this is an all eletric "affair", he is out for "blood", hahahahaha!"
Musical Unit Extraordinary
W. Dent | Baltimore, MD | 12/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Here is a different perspective from that of the previous reviewer!

First, I must state that I am a fan of the music genre we've come to know as fusion. The extraordinary chops exhibited within the framework of unbelieveable compositions played by groups such as Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra have always tickled my fancy. So here is a group of musicians each of whom are heavyweights on their own instruments, playing this incredible music so well written and executed one gets the impression that these players haven't limitations. Words such as taste, finesse, and articulation come to mind.

The cd opens with a little groove called "Hips". There's a nice little theme played by Bireli which makes it a kind of song one can hum strolling down the street on a sunny afternoon. Soon enough Mr. Feraud funks up the proceedings and Franck Wolf (soprano and tenor saxes) takes it up the stairs to the rooftop. A mixture of traditional thematic jazz fusion with a twist of modern hip hop complete with turntables and samples offered by DJ Afro Cut-Nanga (come on.....any cd with a cat on it with a name like that has to be hip).

Enter "Incertitude".....a song with an impossibly tight catch phrase played by Bireli and Wolf so much so that it sounds like one instrument. Keeping it funky are Feraud, Damien Schmitt (drums), and keyboardist Michael Lecoq who plays some funky synthesizer. This arrangement is a great example of how a band utilizes all of the instruments without becoming heavy handed in any way. Great tune!

"Thimothee", written by Bireli, begins with some beautiful changes and gorgeous bass lines which along with the sax, carries the melody just before the tune opens up into a sublime vocal which really opens up the music. Bireli exhibits the wonderful proficiency on his instrument for which he is known, never forgetting that it's all about the music. The similarities between Feraud and Jaco Pastorius are enough to mention but Hadrien Feraud has many influences which he simmers into his own individuality. However, the melodicism with which he performs on Thimothee is quite a tribute to the master! After a great guitar solo by Bireli, Hadrien gets to shine with his solo and reminds us why John McLaughlin sings such high praise regarding his abilties.

"Jack Rabbit" begins with an impossibly fast line played simultaneously by the bass, guitar, and steelpans (Andy Narell), then breaks into modern jazz complete with thematic trade offs and burning bass lines and technically blinding drum licks. A tour de force that is gone as fast as it came.

"Clair Obscur", written by Hadrien Feraud is a languid melodic affair carried by steelpans, sax, and bass guitar with a moderately laid back groove on the drums.

"Foreign Affairs" is among other things, a great vehicle for Damien Schmitt who is obviously very comfortable with tricky rhythmic passages, playing them as in the pocket and funky as others might a straight four with no deviations. "Foreign Affairs" has multiple sections, each featuring a different lead instrument whilst Feraud and Schmitt carry on their own funky conversations with each other. In the end, they all seem to know where they all are and at the right moment, they all take it home together!

Just when the cd seems to cry out for it, a more traditional jazz song is played ("Josef"), complete with brushes in the opening statement...and then it all takes a slight left turn and our traditional jazz song becomes traditionally modern...tasty jam with lots of space and musical interplay. These guys really listen to each other. The conversations they have make sense in an existential ethereal kind of way. Never mistake laid back for lazy. Cool jazz (as in birth of the cool) spoken here!

"Berga" opens with Bireli playing some nice changes preempted by the main theme played on steelpans, sax, and guitar. Nice counterpoint by Feraud brings us into a solid funky section over which Wolf solos and then back comes this nice theme again. After a couple of restatements of the main theme, everything drops down and Michael Lecoq plays a beautiful piano solo on the acoustic grand piano. Ever tastefully, Feraud and Schmitt accompany Mr. Lecoq until they all melt into a steelpan solo. This is followed by Bireli playing in his sweetest and purest jazz tones,an unadulterated single note solo which scales the neck and makes use of his instrument's full range without ever sounding strained. Indeed, the tone of this entire tune is one of a relaxed nature. Very Carribean-ish!

The cd ends with "Hips House". DJ Afro Cut-Nanga opens with some sampling accompanied by some low end keyboard notation. Bireli joins in with a nice solo while Schmitt plays the upbeat on his hi-hat. Soon enough we have a lilting little melody and the musical unit is grooving away with some eighties style fusion aka Cabo Frio, The Rippingtons, and Spyro Gyra (in that era). Hadrien Feraud demonstrates his funkiness and ability to go deep into the groove. All in all, an infectious innocuous way to groove on out of this here cd called Electric Side!

Everything I have read regarding this cd pretty much promotes this effort honestly. Comparisons to the music that Bireli played with Jaco back in the eighties have been made and I can certainly see it. This music is well arranged and it cooks. The playing of the individual musicians is outstanding and as a musical unit, I can't imagine how they could be any tighter than they are! This is definitely a cd over which it is worth getting excited. The quality of the writing is superior and the results these guys get from their collaboration are true to that which the promotional campaign seems to tout. I would love to give a downside to the purchasing of this cd but alas, can't think of any. If you are partial to fusion music the likes of some of the bands I mentioned near the beginning of this review, then I strongly recommend this music. The only thing more fun and exciting than putting Electric Side on your cd player is to see it live. I hope we all get the chance to do that in the near future. Til then, buy this cd and play it!"
A major disappointment from one of the greatest guitarists
K. Knox | Boulder, CO USA | 02/24/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I've been a Bireli fan for a long, long time - even scheduled a trip to France just to see him. Of course he's best-known as the finest of all gypsy guitarists, but he has wonderful electric jazz recordings to his credit. This is definitely not one of them; instead it's the sort of self-indulgent, zero-swing noodling that gave fusion a bad name in the first place.

The main compositions are remakes from 1988's Foreign Affairs, and the performances of the title song of that disc, Josef, Jack Rabbit and Timothee are far superior to the ones on the new CD. Two other truly excellent electric Bireli discs, Jazz in Marciac and the lovely, tight Front Page with Dennis Chambers, are as worthy of attention as Electric Side is forgettable. There are maybe two decent Bireli solos on this CD and Hadrien Feraud plays some fast, soulless bass, and that's about it, unless you like lame keyboards and the intrusion of rap-style DJ scratches on every track. This one should have stayed in the can."