I made the trek from L.A. down to Laguna Beach for Djangofest L.A.'s Saturday night concert. It was quite fun.
Trio Gonzalo opened the show. Gonzalo, the lead guitarist, seemed a bit nervous and made several discouraged comments between songs. I thought they were quite good, though they seemed to rush some of the tunes. I also thought the bassist's playing was a little busy during some of Gonzalo's solos. Still, they were a lot of fun. Their slowest tune, one written by the band, was quite lovely and probably my favorite of their set.
The Rhythm Brothers were up next. They were seasoned professionals, complete with Disneyland credentials and snappy between-song banter. That kind of thing often annoys me, but, like most of the audience, I was won over in short order. They played a whole bunch of originals, some old jazz standards, a Spade Cooley tune (!), and two chorro tunes (you're not alone, Stu!). There were some unusual technical aspects to their performance. The band included a mandolinist and a drummer. All but the drummer played standing up. The two guitarists played 14-fret D-hole guitars (Dell Arte, I think) which they ran their guitars into volume pedals for a little boost when taking solos. The rhythm guitarist ran a line out of his volume pedal into what looked like a Fender Bassman and achieved a mellow, woofy tone. He also used Carl Kress's unusal tuning and played some great chord solos.
Angelo Debarre finished the show. The previous bands were excellent, but Angelo was on a different planet. It was true jazz, in the sense that his playing was a constant exploration. Nothing sounded rehearsed. Any "wrong" notes that he played were finessed into "right" notes. I've heard the saying, "Once is wrong; twice is jazz" used disparagingly, but he really demonstrated how to take chances and turn each potential stumble into a brilliant new melodic path. Plus, he quoted the theme song to "The Simpsons."
And, if my ears didn't deceive me, he also played "He's Funny That Way," one of my favorite songs.
Did anyone else catch this show or any others? How about the workshops or the jamming?