Elana James, Whit Smith, and Jake Erwin love to swing. But their obsession has a split character, its potent dichotomy right there in their trio's name: Hot Club (as in Django Reinhardt's and Stephane Grappelli's Paris-based Gypsy jazz) of Cowtown (as in deep in the heart of Texas where Bob Wills's Western swing sprang). The Cowpokes' thing has been reconciling swing one and swing two with a Seussian sense of wonder and élan, firing up their virtuosic picking skills — fiddle, guitar, and bass, respectively — and igniting a magical flame that defies the decades. Last time out the trio dug into the sagebrush and wrangled up their first full-fledged tribute to Wills and his Texas Playboys on What Makes Bob Holler. With Rendezvous in Rhythm, due out next week, they head across the Atlantic to immerse themselves in the French part of the quotient, kicking things off with the Russian folk song "Ochi Chornye," languid at first but quickly building to a scorching instrumental duel. Evoking their 1930s Parisian counterparts, the trio romps through dynamic arrangements of Reinhardt-Grappelli nuggets like "The Continental" as well as standards of the era like "Crazy Rhythm" and "Melancholy Baby." James and Smith share charming vocals, but all three fly high on the swing flings.
Wed., May 22, 7 p.m., 2013