Hot Club of Cowtown

Article excerpt

Hot Club of Cowtown. Wishful Thinking. Proper PRPCD047, 2009.

When you stop and think about it, blending country music and jazz just does not seem to make very much sense. The latter is defined by its rural simplicity, the latter by its urbane sophistication and forbidding musical complexity. Yet in the 1920s, when Texas musicians began playing fiddle tunes together with jazz standards in a big band setting with swinging rhythms and fiery instrumental solos, dancers and listeners alike went wild and a considerable international audience has continued to do so without interruption ever since. Over the years, this music's exponents have tended to safeguard its traditions rather than expand significantly upon them; however, the three-piece Hot Club of Cowtown has succeeded in defining a particular style of its own. Generally performing without a drummer, the group relies on hard-driving rhythm guitar and solid basslines to generate its trademark swing; bandleader and guitarist Whit Smith is conversant in numerous jazz and country guitar styles, and is an accomplished soloist as well as rhythm player, and he sings, beautifully, in a self-consciously retro style; fiddler Elana fames shares lead vocal duties and contributes songs that tend to stray a bit further than Smith's from the mainstream of Western swing and traditional hot jazz. …