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Jazz Profiles

"Silk and Steel" - Luke Hendon

November 18, 2016


"Sometimes coincidences are just that - coincidences, this despite the oft-repeated cliche to the effect that there “aren’t any coincidences.”


I mean what’s the likelihood of a recording that “touches on the tradition of the legendary gypsy guitar of Django Reinhardt” crossing the threshold of the editorial offices at JazzProfiles while said group is working on a feature about Peche à la Mouche, the great Blue Star sessions of 1947 and 1953 fabled Django?


But that’s exactly what happened recently with the arrival of guitarist Luke Hendon self-produced CD Silk & Steel courtesy of Chris DiGirolamo of Two for the Show Media.


But let me be clear here: while there are similarities with Django, Luke Hendon is his own man. Sure, the Django influence is immediately identifiable in the choice of instrument - acoustic guitar, accompaniment - more acoustic guitars, violin, bass and sax/clarinet, and repertoire with its Swing era, foot-tapping up-tunes and slow ballads, each infused with a certain folkloric, gypsy lyricism.


But what sets Luke apart from Django is the Aristotelian adage that “We are all different with regard to those things we have in common.”


Hendon’s improvisations are his own; they are not derived from Django. It takes a brave musician to improvise using an approach to Jazz so dominated by one of its iconic figures and yet to hold the belief that you have something original to say to say in that style of playing.


And that’s what’s going on in Silk and Steel - an homage to Django’s influence accompanied by Luke’s statement of independent creativity.


What is also going on in Luke Hendon’s music is a reaffirmation of Jazz as “fun.” It’s very apparent here that no one is taking themselves too seriously. Luke and his associates are very accomplished musicians who create music that they obviously take a great delight in making; music that is well-played and entertaining.


If you have an affinity for the music of Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelly and The Quintet of the Hot Club of Paris, then get yourself a copy of Steel and Silk. I guarantee you’ll love it."

Jazz Weekly

Luke Hendon: Silk & Steel

by George W. Harris • October 31, 2016 • 0 Comments

Guitarist Luke Hendon delivers a winning and swinging album that mixes gypsy jazz with deft ensemble work The team includes rhythm guitarists Josh Kaye, Ted Gottsegen and Hendi Looze, and along with violinist Pooquette, reedist Adrian Cunningham and bassist Ben Rubens, they swing like the breeze on “Nothin’ But A Groove” and the Django-inspired “Dinner With Paulus.” Pooquette’s violin is rich, warm and wide, creating a caravan of celebration on “Lola” , while the team gets bluesy on “To Much Tequila.” Hendon’s touch is sweet and suave, delivering some flamenco on “Paquito” and serenading from the piazza on “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” Violin and guitar ruminate like reunited friends on “Joni,” making this a must have for those with the heart of a gypsy.

"Silk and Steel" - Luke Hendon

November 3, 2016

By George Fendel

If you lean in the direction of the charm, intimacy

and very high musicianship of guitarist Django Reinhardt

and violinist Stephane Grappelli, you are going to derive

much pleasure from this delightful, honest session. Hendon

makes clear his mentor is Reinhardt, playing flawless acoustic

guitar to polished perfection. The Grappelli role is played

by a violinist simply known as “Pooquette.” Because they

play a nearly all-original program, the session is very much

their own, and not a Django-Stephane “throwback.” The two

work seamlessly with various rhythm guitars, and here and

there the reed work of Adrian Cunningham. This is authentic

‘20’s and ‘30’s swing music. It is beautifully performed

and every note counts.

The New York City Jazz Record

October 30, 2016

By Mark Keresman

"Silk & Steel"-Luke Hendon

Luke Hendon is a NYC-area guitarist of the Django

Reinhardt school of Gypsy/Roma-infused small-group

swing. Drawing from a similar instrumental palette to

that of Django—acoustic guitars, bass, violin—with

the additional spice of a reed player (clarinet,

saxophone) and concentrating on a program of mostly

original songs, Hendon does the tradition proud. He

plays in a picked, crisp, clean, very articulate style; one

can almost see the vibrations of his strings in the

mind’s eye. He evokes Reinhardt’s sparkle without

overtly trying to emulate him—in fact, there is a strong

influence of American folk music picking to be


Opener “Dinner with Paulus” is virtually the

definition of elegance, with its rich, sultry, romantic,

slightly tango- and waltz-flavored theme and

immaculately picked guitar and sinuous, pensive

violin swirling in unison. It’s easy to imagine couples

dancing to this in a Parisian club (in the ‘20s or even

recently) into the wee hours. “Nothin’ But A Groove”

is just the opposite, a hard-driving swinger featuring

such forcefully strummed rhythm guitar you won’t

notice Hendon’s band has no drummer. It’s got

a jumping “Stompin’ At the Savoy”-like theme (with

an odd, progressive rock-style twist to it) and the

frontline is joined by the jaunty saxophone of Adrian

Cunningham. The latter’s solo brims over with gutsy

swagger and a slightly acidic tone, sneaking in a few

bebop licks and hints of Ornette Coleman-esque

dissonance too. It’s invigorating to both the probing

listener and the sophisticated dancer.

“Too Much Tequila” introduces a strong blues

influence in both the lanky, laconic melody and the

sustained, worried tone of Hendon’s solos. Pooquette’s

dark-toned violin solo is rich as anything by Sugarcane

Harris or Stuff Smith. “Paquito” is a slice of Latinhinted

bebop, Hendon inserting Wes Montgomerystyle

phrasings, albeit in a very forceful manner; the

bouncy rhythm of the tune, however, is very much in

that heavily (almost leadenly) strummed acoustic

guitar style of Reinhardt’s quintet.

When some hepcats go the Django route, they’re

too literal or polite. Hendon’s take on the style is to

inject some very modern energy along with judiciously

placed non-jazz undertones. That’s the crucial

difference between maintaining and enriching a legacy.

All About Jazz

October 24, 2016

It is the easiest thing in the world to laud guitarist Luke Hendon's album Silk & Steel as something to be treasured by anyone who is remotely interested in the style of Django Reinhardt. 

It is important to note, however, that Hendon has done much more than play arpeggios as fast as humanly possible, zip the one string chromatic scale and use a tight vibrato in front of a freight train rhythm guitar —all on an large- body acoustic guitar with steel top strings and wound lower strings over silk. 

Yes, Django was a virtuoso, but he always put his technique in the service of his music where every note he played was full of meaning, diving deep and bringing out his gypsy background. Of course, all great musicians project their very being through their music, which is what makes listening to them such an experience. 

In this interview, Hendon relates how he was introduced to the music of Django by the movie Sweet And Lowdown, with the guitar playing masterfully done by Howard Aldenand Bucky Pizzarelli. Despite not being a gypsy, he has managed to get inside the entirety of Django's style, merging his own musical self with the spirit (figuratively) of Django, which emerges from the inside and not merely layered on top. 

Surely, the musical mannerisms of the Quintette of the Hot Club of France are all there (three hours of Django can be found here), including Hendon's outstanding playing, and that is why it sounds "authentic." The rhythm guitarists and bassist are solid, as is the violin playing (who is not trying to copy Stephane Grappelli). But there is something more going on here —most of tunes are Hendon originals (with the exception of "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" by Romberg/Hammerstein II and Paquito by Paquito Lorier), and the added saxophone and clarinet enlarges the sonic palette. 

Django's music always brings a smile to the lips and transports one back 1930s France, and the best compliment here is that Hendon's music does the same, but also with a foot planted firmly in the here and now in this too short, extremely well done recording. 

Track Listing: Dinner With Paulus; Nothin' But A Groove; Old Friend; Lola; Cupcake; Too Much Tequila; Softly As In A Morning Sunrise; Paquito; Joni.

Personnel: Luke Hendon: lead guitar; Josh Kaye: rhythm guitar; Ted Gottsegen: rhythm guitar; Hendi Looxe: rhythm guitar; Pooquette: violin; Adrian Cunningham: saxophone, clarinet; Ben Rubens: bass.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


October 5, 2016

LUKE HENDON/Silk & Steel: When is a Django not a Django? When guitarist Hendon is at the helm pouring out originals that sound like Reinhardt tunes you think you remember but can't place. Bringing his own hot club along to assemble pretty much a Hot Club of Now, Hendon and his pals strike all the right chords any gypsy guitar fan will recognize as the real deal. Sounding very much like the kind of cat who has the good hands to hold the vibe and keep it alive, this set is a stone cold high water mark for the genre. Sharp ears can pride themselves for finding the versatile Adrian Cunningham smartly tooting his clarinet in the mix adding to the festivities. Killer stuff throughout.

Sea of Tranquility

December 31, 2016

Jon Neudorf

Hendon, Luke: Silk & Steel

There has been some very good guitar albums released in 2016. Here is another one that is a little different from the norm. The guitarist is Luke Hendon and his new album is titled Silk & Steel. His playing is heavily influenced by the late great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Hendon has delved into many styles of music in the past like funk, blues rock and jazz but has more recently developed an appreciation for gypsy flavoured jazz. Joining Hendon are Patrick Carmichael (drums), Ben Rubens and Ari Folman-Cohen (bass), Ted Gottsegen, Josh Kaye and Hendi Looxe (rhythm guitars), Adrian Cunningham (clarinet, sax) and Pooquette (violin).

The gypsy inspired "Dinner with Paulus" begins the disc with melodic acoustic guitar and violin. On the up tempo "Nothin' But a Groove" clarinet and acoustic guitar lead the way with superb acoustic bass supporting the bottom end. The tempo changes speed frequently augmented with stellar picking from Hendon and languid sax work from Cunningham. "Old Friend" is a little more poignant but Hendon's runs are as fast as ever. "Cupcake" is a real joyous affair highlighted with melodic acoustic guitar and clarinet solos while "Lola" exhibits more of a gypsy flair. The bluesy "Too Much Tequila" is another catchy slice of acoustic jazz.

Acoustic jazz aficionados should find much to enjoy with Silk and Steel. With Hendon's guitar work standing out on every track what's not to like? Recommended.

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