Blue Monday

As the self-applied label “gypsy jazz guitar” makes clear, Joscho Stephan wants to be seen as the next Django Rheinhardt, and there’s no denying he has the technique to make the comparison stick. The tune up top is “Django’s Tiger,” and like the one below, “Limehouse Blues,” it shows that Stephan has earned his reputation as the Lightnin’ Licks Kid.

I don’t listen much to Stephan right now, because the crowd-pleasing Speedy Gonzales stuff gets tedious after a while. The soul part of the jazz equation isn’t quite there yet. But the clip below, which shows Stephan stretching out on the Duke Ellington standard “Caravan,” have enough wit, energy and creative spark to keep me from writing Stephan off as an empty flashmeister. The guy’s got some surprises in him.

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