Sun Shine Soul (Red Squirrel Records, 2015)
The fiercely polished sound of the Boston-based trio Ameranouche’s May 1st release of Sun Shine Soul is yet another thrilling take on the gypsy/flamenco/swing band that is sure to have fan clamoring for more. Building on a repertoire of work that includes the 2007 release of Homage A’ Manouche, the 2009 release Awake, the 2011 recording Des Histoires Simples and their 2013 recording Hot!, Ameranouche sets out to dazzle gypsy jazz fans, Django Reinhardt junkies and all around swing band aficionados.
Listeners get the full force of Ameranouche on Sun Shine Soul’s 11 tracks that enfold the riches of flamenco, gypsy music, jazz and swing to create a fresh, sophisticated listen into a contemporized version of the swing band with some welcomed surprises on tap for listeners.
Weaving the consummate talents of guitarist and vocalist Richard “Shepp” Sheppard, upright bassist and vocalist Michael K. Harrist and guitarist Jack Soref, Sun Shine Soul is one of those recording that doesn’t rely on mere technical skill, but something where the sheer pleasure of the music ekes out.
Mr. Sheppard explains, “We create a vehicle for three people to express themselves in the most joyous fashion they can conjure in that moment. It’s about hooking into that energy that’s beyond human reasoning.”
The high-octane opening title track “Sun Shine Soul” is proof of not only the technical mastery of these musicians but also the infectious nature of this trio. Moving on to the sultry “For My Old Home” and onto the flamenco flair of “For Stochelo,” Ameranouche immerses listeners into the lushness that hints at the sparks of swing, jazz, flamenco and gypsy music but there’s nothing old hat here – each track is smart, crisp and innovative. Fans get a dash of breezy soul with a contemporized version of “Claire De Lune,” some Spanish flamenco quick work on “Andalusian Dreams” and a sweetly sassy version of “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.”
Other goodies include the exotically rich “Misa Maull,” the swinging jazzily “What Now” and interestingly enough the trio’s take on a traditional Turkish piece composed by Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz called “Hicaz Mandira.” Of course no self-respecting swing group would pass up the opportunity to pay homage to Django Reinhardt, and Ameranouche is the real deal if nothing else with their version of “Rhythme Futur” and good luck keeping up with this track.
Sun Shine Soul takes musical flavors and traditions and propels them forward with utter and complete joy.