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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

ROMANE AND THE FREDERIC MANOUKIAN ORCHESTRA

By William Bloomhuff
Published June 22, 2006

Iris Music

As his name suggests, Romane is a renowned French acoustic guitarist with a heavy Gypsy/Django orientation. His playing is light and fluid and here he is teamed up with a studio bursting with musicians. Pianist, composer and arranger Frederick Manoukian supplies his big—and I mean Big and Brassy—band to the session. This is essentially a straightforward jazz album but there are some interesting side roads taken, some more successful than others. The low points include a painfully bad vocal from another guitarist on the otherwise-listenable "Madame" and the circus-like soundtrack of "Sidewalk Story," which is too predictable and tame. Things get swinging with "Gipsy Fever," allowing many of the players to stretch out and jam, including the nimble-fingered Romane.