Several years ago, having identified her true musical passion, Christy Bennett formed Fumée (literally, “smoke”) to perform music in the style of Django Reinhardt. Django did occasionally perform and record with singers, but he was an instrumentalist who wrote instrumental pieces. Christy was particularly interested in Django’s compositions and needed to develop repertoire for her new band. She knew that Nuages, perhaps Django’s most famous composition, had lyrics. She set out to find any other of Django’s songs with accompanying lyrics. Her quest became as much a research project as a recording project. Over the course of two years she assembled, what she believes to be, the entire catalog of Django’s compositions with lyrics, complete with introductory verses. All of these pieces were recorded as instrumentals during Django’s lifetime, but very few were recorded by singers. Three established lyricists of the day are responsible for the words.
The tunes range from up-tempo swingers (Douce Ambiance, Swing 39, Swing 42) to dreamy, sentimental pieces (Fleur D’Ennui, Crepuscule, Melodie au Crepuscule, Nuages), to melancholic songs of lost love and sad memories (Larmes, Manoir de mes rêves, Troublant Bolero). As the band’s name suggests, the presentation is breezy and smoky. The great melodic and harmonic gifts of Don Stille and Don Stiernberg are vividly on display as they weave in and around each other in a swinging pas de deux. Art Davis’ earthy, warm tone provides a beautiful counterpoint to Christy’s vocals, and in the moments when they are together in locked harmony one could swear we’re listening to two vocalists. Christian Dillingham provides a solid foundation for the whole affair and takes good advantage of his opportunities to step out front. And then there’s Christy. With a lovely, sweet, tuneful voice that is so easy on the ears, she fairly floats above the instruments to carry us off to another time and place.
-Steve Rashid, composer/music producer, Host of Chicago Jazz Live on WDCB