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Concert Review: Stephane Wrembel at NCPA

The small crowd that attended the concert were treated to a delightful two hours of jazz by Stephen Wremble and his jazz quartet

Sunil Sampat Oct 09, 2015
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In an almost unannounced concert at the Little Theater at the NCPA, Stephane Wrembel and his quartet delighted the audience with two hours of pure gypsy jazz.

In  Woody Allen’s wonderful film, Midnight in Paris (2011), the music was so reminiscent of French gypsy guitarist Django Rheinhart’s sound, one wondered who had done such a marvellous job of it. The music created the right atmosphere for the story. The answer, as one discovered today, is Stephane Wrembel. He is on a short India tour with his ‘gypsy jazz quartet’. They played in Mumbai on October 8th at the Little Theatre at the NCPA in an almost unannounced concert. They have been brought to India by the Total Environment Music Foundation of Bengaluru for concerts in Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The Mumbai concert was attended by a mere 30 to 40 people. This small crowd were treated to a delightful two hours of jazz. In the band, Wrembel plays guitar, Thor Jensen rhythm guitar, Nick Anderson plays drums and Berger, the upright acoustic bass. The Stephane Wrembel Gypsy Jazz Quartet played mainly original compositions during the evening. They also played one cover: “Hanuman,” an original from Rheinhart. Wrembel explained that he wanted to create a composition for India, but instead was playing something already written for it. So the tribute to Hanuman.The set opened with “The Voice from the Desert” and really warmed up with “The Edge,” a very Rheinhart-like performance. The next three pieces were Wrembel’s compositions for  Allen’s films. First were the love themes from Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008), followed by “Bistro Fada” from Midnight in Paris (2011) and finally “The Human Condition,” a short piece for an unnamed film. All three are sensitive, introspective compositions and were the highlight of the evening.

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Wrembel’s compositions are so obviously inspired by his vivid imagination; Prometheus from Greek Mythology evokes “The Human Spirit,” “Tsunami in Two Moods” is based on his mental image of Japan, calm and serene followed by the tragic tsunami that devastated northern Japan. “Apocalypse” is fired by the energy of life and finally, “Voyager – for Carl Sagan” is Wrembel’s salute to the eternal and timeless universe into which humans are sending their tiny emissary!

Clearly, Wrembel dominated the quartet with a super display of forceful, yet sensitive acoustic guitar play. It was a very enjoyable evening of gypsy jazz. It was a concert worthy of a very large concert hall; too bad only a handful of people got to hear it, for whatever reason.


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