Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack
Lead by guitarist Doug Munro, La Pompe Attack presents an exciting updated interpretation of the hot swing sound of Django Reinhardt coupled with Doug’s own unique and highly entertaining style of playing. The concerts for the 2023-24 season will feature material from La Pompe Attack’s 2022 chart topping release “Putt Lake Toodleloo”. Joined by a group of virtuosic performers including saxophonist Albert Rivera, guitarist Ben Wood, and bassist Michael Goetz, La Pompe Attack always delivers an exciting show guaranteed to wow any audience!
"Putt Lake Toodleloo allows one to imagine what it would have been like if Django Reinhardt was from a much younger generation, and if he had been open to sharing the spotlight with other talented guitar soloists. This eclectic set only includes one Django song, “Manior De Mes Reves (Django’s Castle),” and two swing standards (“I’m Confessin’” and “Down By The Riverside”) in a program that also features six originals by Munro and songs by James Taylor, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, the Beatles, and the 1990s rock group Sound Garden. Yet despite the varied sources, the music consistently sounds very much in the gypsy jazz tradition and has a surprising unity with one song somehow leading logically to the next one.
Doug Munro, who also takes a few vocals, is joined by Albert Rivera (mostly on soprano-sax in addition to alto), bassist Michael Goetz, drummer Ian Carroll (with Jon Doty filling in on three songs) and one of four guitarists: Vinny Raniolo, Ernie Pugliese, Ted Gottsegen, or Ben Wood. Unlike with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France which had Reinhardt as the only guitar soloist while he was accompanied by two rhythm guitarists, there is solo space for each of the guitarists that appear in this quintet. Each of the musicians solos in the tradition without copying their predecessors. Rivera’s solid lead on some of the songs blends in well with the guitarists.
The music is consistently joyous and good-humored while always swinging. The opening “Putt Lake Toodleloo” hints at both Duke Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-oo” (his theme song in the 1920s and ‘30s) and “Topsy.” “Traffic Jam” weds James Taylor’s words from one of his pieces to a medium-tempo blues. “Rhumba Gitane” is a spirited rumba with a particularly catchy melody while “I’m Confessin” is taken at a relaxed medium-slow tempo and includes a fine Munro vocal and warm solos.
One would never think of Jaco Pastorius’ “Teen Town” as heated gypsy jazz but, despite its complex melody, this piece is given a cooking performance. “Struttin’” is a boppish Munro original that utilizes some of the chord changes of “I Got Rhythm.” “Psycho Samba” is a bit more modern and includes some counterpoint and a Spanish tinge. The rather unusual “Castyourfatetothewindcriedmary,” which has no connection to the Vince Guaraldi song “Cast Your Fate To The Wind,” features Munro singing lyrics that have numerous connections to other songs, TV shows, movies and commercials. “Doug’s Bolero” is an attractive tango, Sound Garden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Shorter’s “Black Nile” (with its mysterious theme) are utterly reinvented as hot swing, and the group does justice to Django’s beautiful ballad “Manior De Mes Reves.” This enjoyable program closes with the Lennon/McCartney song “Honey Pie” (which sounds here like a vintage swing tune) and a good-time version of “Down By The Riverside.”
The 1930s Jimmie Lunceford song “Tain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It” can be used to sum up this album. The diverse material on Putt Lake Toodleloo is less important than what Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack do with it, and the results are easily recommended to anyone who enjoys swinging gypsy jazz."
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian