Remember guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-53) and violinist Stéphen Grappelli (1909-77)? They were the founders of the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934. Their legacy of innovative gypsy jazz with classical inflections reappeared in elevated format at the Pawling Concert Series in Trinity-Pawling’s Gardiner Theater. Rhythm Future Quartet, its name derived from a Django Rhinehardt composition, consists of four talented musicians who are also composers.
Their program consisted of alternating their own arrangement of standards with new compositions of their own. Opening with Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” they segued into “Iberian Sunrise” by bassist Greg Loughman who has an unerring sense of rhythm. Here was Spanish gypsy music arranged as a suite that traversed a varied rhythmic landscape with varied tempo.
After the ever-popular Brazilian “Desfinado,” they played Reinhardt’s version of Tchaikovsky's “Starry Night” before landing in 7/8 time for a Bulgarian jazz style composition by violinist Jason Anick entitled “Vessela,” which translates as “Happy.” Anick can push sweetness and soulful lament to extended runs that arrive with excited amazement. And when was the last time you heard a guitarist who could play 1/16th notes in a long run? Twenty-one year-old Olli Soikkeli from Finland can pick those notes with nearly effortless flurries. I was twenty-one when I first heard Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) perform in Cincinnati and do that feat before I heard him again at Woodstock. (I’m briefly in the film. Hendrix was murdered by his underwater producer in order to profit from the eleven posthumous albums in the can—according to Rock Roadie (2009) by James “Tappy” Wright—by means of being water-boarded with red wine.) Yes, Olli, although acoustic, is the new boy wonder in the guitar world!
They performed a wonderfully long arrangement of John Lennon’s “Come Together” as each member took a run at their own solo. Anick performed his Grappelli-style composition “Still Winter” with the quartet wherein halting stillness somehow found happy and amusing avenues to explore. To conclude the long first half they played a composition by Olli on their current album Travels (they will be recording their third album next month), “For Paulus.”
Before the second half, MC Ned Reade noted that J.Wen had donated new speakers to the auditorium and I can happily report that the clarity and dynamics have greatly improved. This particular concert was supported by patron Bob Moroni of Pawling who unexpectedly died this past September. The concert was dedicated to Bob’s memory.
The quartet began the shorter second half with an Oscar Pettiford number then played a new composition by Olli that was as yet untitled. Olli had two fantastic solo runs in this energetic number. They performed their own seductive arrangement of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” before moving into a new composition by Anick entitled “Waterfalls” where Anick’s violin plunged from high to low and repeated that process with seamless leaps.
Bassist Greg Loughman and bass guitarist Max O’Rourke then improvised a duet, beginning with O’Rourke leading then switching leads several times. For conclusion, they offered Reinhardt‘s “Made in France.” After rapturous applause they played Reinhardt‘s famous “Nuages” (“Clouds”), a video of which appears below.
Rhythm Future Quartet, just returned from their Russian tour, is a versatile jazz quartet that plays with welded unity. They mix a gypsy jazz style with attractive and imaginative riffs of their own tangents, thus extending that Reinhardt-Grappelli style in new ways. As performers, they are pleasant and riveting to the ear. All are young, immensely talented musicians who appear to have a world audience already at their fingertips.