Archive for May 31st, 2019

Craig Sharmat – Nouveau

Some 12 years after Craig Sharmat created his first “gypsy jazz” project for licensing purposes on assignment for what is now the Warner Chappell Productions Library, the guitarist and veteran film and TV composer’s passion for the style and desire to master gypsy guitar has evolved into a full blown creative addiction.  It’s reached such a fever pitch that instead of immediately following up his hit 2013 urban jazz album Bleu Horizons with a like-minded sequel, he immersed in the music scene of his new adopted hometown of Santa Barbara and formed The Idiomatiques – which became the first Gypsy Jazz band in history to score a hit on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. True to its title, Sharmat’s latest collection Nouveau is a fresh, visionary work that finds the multi-talented artist in full on hybrid mode, artfully fusing the funky urban side of smooth jazz with Django Reinhardt inspired gypsy jazz guitar.

It’s a bold, dynamic approach that builds on the extraordinary critical acclaim and chart success he’s enjoyed these past years in both genres. Chosen one of the year’s Critics’ Choice Ten Best in Jazziz magazine, Bleu Horizons – designed as a spirited musical travelogue – included the Top 5 Billboard single “A Day in Paris,” the Top 10 single “Agua Do Brasil” and the Top 20 single “Surfing the Caspian Sea.” The single “C’est la Vie” from Craig Sharmat with the Idiomatiques’ second album Out on the Town also hit the Top 30 on the contemporary jazz chart.

While Bleu Horizons was filled with exotic sounds and rhythms representing various locales throughout the globe, it was in essence a groove driven, in the pocket smooth jazz experience, featuring guest appearances by genre greats like Peter White and Rick Braun. In the spirit of putting as much organic, Djangofied gypsy magic as possible into Nouveau, Sharmat surrounds his transcendent and deeply soulful guitarisma with three core members of the Idiomatiques: renowned accordionist, keyboardist and composer Brian Mann (Larry Carlton, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald), bassist, vocalist and jazz educator Kim Collins and the group’s newest member, George Quirin, who adds his flamenco guitar energy to a snappy yet sensual twist on the traditional French valse (waltz) “Indifference.” The song is a standard high in the gypsy jazz repertoire that serves as a showcase for Sharmat’s imaginative acoustic brilliance. Continue reading