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The Gypsy Hombres
DJANGO BELLS
(MEMPHIS INTERNATIONAL)

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Nashville cats Peter Hykra (violin), Justin Thompson (guitar), and David Spicher (bass) provide relief from Bing Crosby and Bobby Helms with 10 takes on Christmas songs rearranged as though they were being played by a Hot Club of Paris trio. So "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" becomes a Gypsy tango with a sprightly violin solo, and "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" gets Balkanized. "Youíre a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" also acquires a touch of menace, thanks to the dark bowing of Spicherís bass, which is offset by Thompsonís sharp comping and jazz-flavored legato break.

Then, of course, thereís the title track, which plays games with minor and major keys. And when Santa Claus comes to town, itís via caravan from Belgium. This predominantly acoustic album was originally released out of the bandís pocket last year in Nashville, where it became the best-selling CD for six weeks at the local Tower Records. And no wonder: these guys are clean, expressive players with enough witty flair to give new life to all of the songs.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI

Issue Date: December 12 - 19, 2002
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