Gary Potter Quartet - Le QuecumBar Live in London - Jazzwise

22 October 2008
Jack Massarik
3 Stars

I believe I was present at the Potter recording on a sunny evening in beautiful downtown Battersea last September. There was no sign of the band when I arrived, but the leader's Macaferri style acoustic guitar was lying unattended on one of those wooden trestle-tables outside the bar. That was typical Gary Potter. A genial, unassuming, easy-going Scouser with no big-time affectations, he quadruples in stature the moment he picks up his guitar and starts playing gypsy jazz.

He can also play better than good Country and Western guitar, but its the music of Django Reindhardt that first inspired him and which he has mastered to an amazing degree. He's not alone there, of course. There are dozens of dynamic Reindhardt-school guitarists in countries all around the world, having fun and winning new audiences for the seemngly ageless brand of swing established by the great Belgian guitarist and his faithful French sidekick, violinist Stephane Grappelli. But Gary Potter can put any of them to the test.

He writes little or no songs of his own, but plays the entire Reindhardt canon with remarkable virtuosity. Djangology, Nuages, Minor Swing and Troublant Bolero are all faithfully interpreted here and embellished with hard-swinging yet feather-light variations of his own. He skitters around the fretboard with similar abandon on swing standards of the period, including Limehouse Blues and Can't Give You Anything But Love. Not cutting-edge perhaps, but lovely stuff, brilliantly performed.

The same goes quadruple for the double-album compilation of gypsy swing released on the same label. It's an impressive sample of the Continental virtuosi to have graced Sylvia Rushbrooke's Battersea bastion ove the last few years. And nestling comfortably among such stars as Ritary Gaguenetti, Lollo Meier and Angelo DeBarre you will find a sprinkling of Brits including the heroic Mr Potter, the super-versatile John Etheridge and the under-rated Hank B Marvin, who must have been practising a bit since he packed away his glitter suits, bade farewell to Cliff Richard and became a Shadow no more.

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