Arts and Entertainment

REVIEW: Latest CD from Billet-Deux gives listeners a lot to love

Local gypsy jazz band Billet-Deux has produced their second CD appropriately entitled “Deux,” which provides the listener with a little bit of everything to love.

The 12-song “Deux” breaks out with the Wes Montgomery tune “Four On Six,” demonstrating the absolute skill of this tight five-piece band.

The wonderfully flexible bow of James Hinkley on cello rides the joyful wave of the tune into Troy Chapman’s easy-feeling solo guitar.

The whole band — which also includes Jospehina Hunner on guitar, Michael Yocco on bass and Roger Bennett on drums — swings expertly through the happy, melodic rides on this album, including Dizzy Gillespie’s “Be-bop,” and Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” which sweeps along pleasingly, floating nicely down to the ground and then back up again in waves of lightness and depth.

Besides being able to swing effortlessly, this band captures the earthier sides of jazz on “Deux” as well.

Chapman has written a lovely serenade in “Sarita” from which one imagines an exotic setting for a lover’s tryst with its evocative strains of guitar, steady Latin-induced percussion, and what sounds like the pining of a beautiful lover coming from Hinkley’s cello.

And on Django Reinhardt’s tune “Anouman,” Hinkley does an excellent job of capturing what the father of gypsy jazz probably had in mind with its deep, heartfelt brooding cello which contrasts nicely with the following surprise of Hinkley’s own “Fishwife Blues,” an easy-time tune that grooves with the fun and fancy fingers of Chapman’s solo guitar.

The romance of “Deux” is sustained with Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise,” another classic this band has made their own among others on this album with an easy, roll-along style.

Michael Yocco and Larry Neubauer have found the perfect band to record their song “Ordinary Girl,” with its series of great string solos that one could imagine appealing to Deadheads and jazz lovers alike and somehow evokes the happy fields of a sun-drenched Whidbey Island.

“Deux” finishes with Hinkley singing “Tu vuo’fa’ Il’americano,” a boogie-woogie tune by Renato Carosone and Nicola Salerno that adds a bit of fun, European flavor to finish this truly listenable CD.

There’s so much to love on this album, as Billet-Deux seems to have appealed to all manner of music lovers, swingers and romantics.

A CD release concert for “Deux” is at WICA at 7:30 tonight. Tickets cost $15. Call 221-8268 or visit www.WICAonline.com for info.

Visit the band’s Web site at www.billet-deux.com.

“Deux” is available along with their first CD “Alita” at Joe’s Island Music in Langley, Silver Platters and Dusty Strings in Seattle, online at www.CDbaby.com and www.billet-deux.com or digitally at www.digstation.com.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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