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In my opinion, creative people should be closely monitored at all times and perhaps even be kept busy with menial tasks upon which they can concentrate their minds and energy.  If not, they are quite likely to come up with oddball ideas of their own…and then, God help us, actually pursue them.  Case in point: this CD, ‘Malibu Manouche’ from guitarists Neil Andersson and Peter Pendras.  While unsupervised, these two somehow came up with the totally off-the-wall notion of mixing Django Reinhardt-esque European Gypsy Jazz from the 1940’s with American Surf Music from the 1960’s.  Just to see what would happen. And, oh yeah, while they were at it, why not throw in some slide guitar, too?  Sure, why not?  That might be fun. And then maybe they could get one of Seattle’s finest jazz rhythm sections (bassist, Chuck Deardorf and percussionist, Mark Ivester) to anchor the whole deal.  Again, just to see what would happen…

Well, Malibu Manouche is what happened and I can guarantee that it is a little unlike any other music you’ve ever heard in your life.  Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that it is very much like a whole bunch of music you’ve heard all your life…just never in this rather peculiar but extremely delightful combination.  You’ll find surf music classics like ‘Apache’ and ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ done somewhat in the style of Django Reinhard and, just for balance, I suppose (and of course, to see what would happen), Django’s ‘Swing 39’ done as if Mr. Reinhardt had come of age in Ventura County during the ‘60’s rather than in France during the ‘30’s. And let’s not forget their version of ‘Surfer Girl,’ which starts out like something from Santo And Johnny, morphs into what I can only describe as Brian-Wilson-Meets-The-Girl-From-Ipanema and then decides it would rather be a waltz.  Very odd.  Lovely, but odd.  
Along the way, you’ll also original compositions by Neil and Peter and superb playing from all the band members.  In general, Neil can be heard on acoustic guitar while Peter takes care of the electric and slide guitar side of things.  Mark Ivester is more than a match for any rhythm the band cares to throw at him (even managing to play ‘Pipeline’ with, presumably, a straight face) and Chuck Deardorf’s beautifully melodic bass solo on Peter’s tune, ‘Sombrio’ is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Not wishing to overload my mind, I never asked Neil and Peter exactly where they came up with the idea of recording an album of Gypsy-Surf music but my guess would be that it stems from their own ‘coming-of-age’ as musicians.
As young guitar players, both Neil and Peter played a lot of rock n roll. Neil first came to my attention as the lead guitarist for the Northwest’s legendary rock band, The Fabulous Wailers.  After he left The Wailers I lost track of Neil until he and Dudley Hill formed their gypsy-jazz group, Pearl Django, but during the 80’s I saw a lot of Peter, who seemed to be omnipresent on the Seattle rock scene, playing with a number of great bands including Red Dress, The Dynamic Logs and The Jitters.
Although their abilities and proclivities eventually led Neil and Peter into more complex forms of music, the old rock n roll was always there, quietly residing in their musical DNA.  So, rather than dismissing those early, formative years, it seems that they have chosen to dip back into them--for a moment at least--to take some of the music that inspired them to become guitarists and graft it onto to the music of the guitarists they’ve become.  Just to see what would happen.

Nick Morrison

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