A celebration of Django Reinhardt

The regular jazz evenings at the Corn Hall, hosted by Chris Ingram, always attract a sizeable audience, and their loyalty is invariably rewarded by excellent musicians playing the music they love. The four-piece London Django Collective proved to be no exception, delivering a master class in what violinist Matt Holbourn described as gypsy jazz in a performance that paid homage to their namesake, Django Reinhardt.

The Collective has a roster of musicians at its disposal – on this occasion Holbourn was joined by Pete Thomas on bass, with Harry Diplock and Ducato Petrowski on guitars. Together, they treated the audience to nearly two hours of music that featured many of Reinhardt’s own compositions, but also a judicious sprinkling of the work of others. So we got to hear Reinhardt’s Minor Blues, What Is this thing called Love, Dark Eyes and Tiger. But along way, we also heard Coke Porter’s I’ll see you in My Dreams, The Andrew Sister’s Joseph Joseph, as well as a whole host of more obscure pieces that added texture and interest to a set list that was both eclectic and informed. That said, whatever tune they chose to play, and however artfully arranged, the specific composition was only ever going to be the spine around which the Collective improvised. Harry Diplock and Ducato Petrowski took on the lion’s share of soloing, allowing the audience to happily wallow in that classic Django Reinhardt sound, while cleverly avoiding a lapse into pastiche.

Matt Holbourn had his moments on the violin, too, while also distinguishing himself with a nice line in mordant wit. A self-confessed Reinhardt nerd, he seemed to take great pleasure in the good-natured audience, chuckling away at his obsession. Great pleasure too, in the reception Diss offered, a place he confessed to never having heard of before. We can only hope, that now they know the way, it won’t be too long before they return.