Rendezvous In Rhythm

The Hot Club Of Cowtown

Rendezvous In Rhythm, 2013

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


A couple of years ago I bought What Makes Bob Holler by Hot Club Of Cowtown. It was an album of modernized Western swing with a little jazz thrown in for good measure that paid homage to country artist Bob Wills. When their new album, Rendezvous In Rhythm arrived in my mail box, I expected a similar sound. Much to my surprise, they had traveled in a different direction.

Hot Club Of Cowtown came into existence when fiddle player/vocalist Elana James placed an ad in a local newspaper looking for a band. She didn’t join a band but did find guitarist/vocalist Whit Smith and so a band was born. Bassist Jake Irwin made three and their line-up was complete. Since their formation, they have toured with the likes of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Their 13my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 th album will be released May 28th.

Rendezvous In Rhythm is an ambitious affair that finds the band leaving their Western swing roots behind and exploring new directions. They tend to rotate traditional songs from the Great American Songbook sung by Smith and Gypsy jazz material sung by James. The acoustic music channels artists such as violin and guitar masters Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.

The lead track establishes the fact that they have moved in a new direction. “Ochi Chorne,” also known as “Dark Eyes,” is a Russian folk song, which is presented in a classical format. Combined with their other instrumentals, “Minor Swing” and “Douce Ambiance,” the tone, energy, and instrumental virtuosity sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The tracks tend to meander along in a pleasant way.  There is the beauty of Whit Smith’s vocal on “I’m In The Mood For Love” and the sass of Elana James on “Crazy Rhythm.” Throw in the Billie Holliday tune “Back In My Own Backyard,” Al Jolson’s “Avalon,” the classic “Slow Boat to China,” and the gentle “If I Had You” and you have an album that grabs your attention.

Hot Club Of Cowtown has issued an entertaining album that shows off their versatility and growth as a band. They have moved from the smoky clubs of the West to the dimly lit bistros of pre-World War II Paris and it’s worth accompanying them on their journey.

Rating: B

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© 2013 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rendezvous In Rhythm, and is used for informational purposes only.