Hot Club of Cowtown: Rendezvous in Rhythm (2012)
01. Dark Eyes / “Ochi Chornye”
02. I’m In The Mood For Love
03. Crazy Rhythm
05. If I Had You
06. The Continental
07. Minor Swing
08. Melancholy Baby
09. I’m Confessin’
10. Sweet Sue, Just You
11. Slow Boat To China
12. Sunshine Of Your Smile
13. Back In Your Own Backyard
14. Douce Ambiance
Elana James (nee Fremerman) – fiddle, vocals;
Whit Smith – guitar, vocals;
Jake Erwin – bass, vocals
Released: October, 2012(UK)/ May, 2013(USA)
Label: Gold Strike
Producer: Lloyd Maines
Hot Club of Cowtown patented their style early in their career, and if they haven’t found a lot of variation within their blend of hot dance music and western swing, they have nevertheless found a lot of depth within this unique fusion.
Rendezvous in Rhythm, the group’s 2013 album and eighth overall, is the flipside of 2010’s Bob Wills salute What Makes Bob Holler, focusing entirely on jazz standards often heard in the south of France.
In some ways, this underplays the “cowtown” element of the Hot Club, but there’s a looseness in the rhythms that is ever so slightly western, plus, by this point, the trio is so fluid in blurring the boundaries between swing and western swing, it doesn’t much matter that this album doesn’t have much in the way of country.
Every one of the three members fiddler Elana James, guitarist Whit Smith, bassist Jake Erwin get space to spill out lyrical solos and they truly seem to cherish playing these familiar melodies, savoring their lyrical turns as well as the group’s familiar but lively interplay.
Similarly, listeners will find this comfortable but not complacent, as the trio cooks with some serious heat on these beloved tunes.
And don’t say the Hot Club’s version of “Slow Boat to China” cashes in on the song’s appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s cryptic 2012 film The Master this album was recorded in July of 2012, long before anybody would have known Philip Seymour Hoffman bid farewell to Joaquin Phoenix with the tune at the movie’s conclusion.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine[allmusic.com]