Duane Andrews has spent years crafting his own inimitable blend of Gypsy Jazz inspired by the legendary Django Reinhardt and traditional Newfoundland music, while the late great John Allan Cameron simply said it all about fiddler Dwayne Côté, calling him “the best kept secret in Celtic music”. Together, they have recorded an album that effortlessly fuses these elements. Throughout the self-titled album, the listener feels the intimacy of a duet album while discovering a wholly unprecedented blend of traditional and jazz stylings that combine to create a completely new sound.
Andrews describes it as, “Winston Fitzgerald meets Django Reinhardt on the Newfoundland ferry.” Or more generically, gypsy jazz meets traditional music from Cape Breton and Newfoundland.
“The Princess”, for example, takes a traditional fiddle tune and fashions it as a theme in a standard jazz arrangement, while “Tears” is an interpretation of an old gypsy folk melody. “Beautiful Lake Ainslie” is a sublime tune from the great fiddler Elmer Briand of L’Ardoise, Cape Breton while “Belleville” is a Reinhardt original.
Cote and Andrews first met in the mid-1990s when they both happened to be living in Halifax. “There was always a mutual musical admiration happening,” says Andrews, but then they didn’t run into each other again until November 2008. “I was doing a few shows down around Cape Breton and Ed Woodsworth was on board playing bass, and for some reason I thought of Dwayne and asked Ed if he knew if Dwayne was around Cape Breton these days. Ed got us in touch again and we took Dwayne out for a few of those shows as a guest and we both knew we had to do more playing together. So we decided to do an album together.”
They got together in an old farmhouse outside Antigonish, owned by a friend of Cote’s and started recording. “We set up there for three days last November and recorded it all off the floor in the living room.”
The result is stunning. Not only does this pairing of players and instruments bring the Stéphane Grappelli / Django Reinhardt sound to mind, it goes beyond the obvious, infusing all of their duets with the strong musical traditions of their individual island upbringings.
“It’s pretty cool,” Andrews elaborates about their sound, “as individually we both love the traditional music of our homes but we both have this interest in swing jazz too. So it was really cool when we started playing together and bringing those different styles of music together. But even on an instrumental level, it’s cool how we fit together with just a guitar and fiddle. Like we can take a tune—I’ll back up Dwayne, but he can also play the fiddle like a guitar and basically back me up like a rhythm guitar player too on the fiddle.”
Dwayne Côté and Duane Andrews will launch their self-titled CD with performances in Atlantic Canada and Maine starting this week in Cape Breton: Thursday, May 13 at Kiju’s Restaurant in Membertou; Friday, May 14 at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn in St. Peter’s; and Saturday, May 15 at the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club in Sydney. They will also be performing at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in July and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in August. For a complete list of upcoming dates, or to hear some samples from the album, visit dwayneandduane.com. The CD is available for purchase at their live shows, select music retailers, and online at Maple Music or iTunes.