Duane on 'Dwayne and Duane'

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Album blends jazz guitar, Cape Breton fiddle

No, guitarist Duane Andrews is not speaking in the third person. These days, when Andrews talks about "Dwayne," he is likely speaking about Dwayne CÔtÉ - his partner on a new instrumental music release featuring the melding of gypsy jazz guitar with Cape Breton fiddle. The album is all "Dwayne CÔtÉ & Duane Andrews."

"Fundamentally, the styles are traditional fiddle music and jazz, or more specifically gypsy jazz with the swing style, and they, I think are familiar to a lot of people. ... But the way we combine it all, I think, is what's unique," Andrews said, speaking with The Telegram on a quiet afternoon at The Ship in St. John's.

Dwayne Côté (left) and Duane Andrews.  Submitted photo

No, guitarist Duane Andrews is not speaking in the third person. These days, when Andrews talks about "Dwayne," he is likely speaking about Dwayne CÔtÉ - his partner on a new instrumental music release featuring the melding of gypsy jazz guitar with Cape Breton fiddle. The album is all "Dwayne CÔtÉ & Duane Andrews."

"Fundamentally, the styles are traditional fiddle music and jazz, or more specifically gypsy jazz with the swing style, and they, I think are familiar to a lot of people. ... But the way we combine it all, I think, is what's unique," Andrews said, speaking with The Telegram on a quiet afternoon at The Ship in St. John's.

"We'll take a fiddle tune, but we'll play it as a jazz tune, so you don't hear that too often. Or we'll take a jazz tune, but slow it down and play it like a slow air, so it will sound like a fiddle tune, but coming from a whole other place," he said.

"Along those lines, too, if you look at the instruments, it's a fiddle and it's a guitar, but even the guitar I play is really different from your standard guitar. ... Even the way Dwayne plays the fiddle, I mean he can play straight-ahead tunes, but he's just got a lot of ability on the instrument so he can draw out sounds that kind of make you go: 'What is that?'"

The skills of the fiddler, CÔtÉ, have, in fact, been developing over many years. He began playing Cape Breton fiddle when he was just four years old, Andrews said, performing professionally by the time he was in his teens. CÔtÉ has worked with musicians from the Barra MacNeil's Lucy MacNeil, Natalie MacMaster and performed internationally from Ireland to the United Arab Emirates.

Andrews first met the fiddler in the mid-1990s.

"We first met at a party. We were both living in Halifax at the time, even though neither one of us are from there," he said. "I had just graduated from St. FX, so that was like '94, '95 and I was kind of floating around Halifax for a little bit. He happened to be there at the time too."

The party led to the first sit-down.

"We had a little jam that night and I think at that moment we realized we had a connection musically," Andrews said. "But it was really 10 years after that that we even played together again."

The next time around, the pair shared a real stage.

"I had some shows down in Cape Breton where Dwayne was living and the bass player who was playing with us then, he was from down there, so I asked him, 'You ever see Dwayne CÔtÉ around? So we managed to find him and we got him out for a few shows, so that was like in 2008, in November," Andrews said. "Then we realized we had to do more, so him and I, we decided to do an album together."

The album was recorded about a year later, last November, with a guitar, a fiddle. "We could have kind of added some other textures with instruments and stuff, but we decided to just keep it as fiddle and guitar. The kind of sense we wanted people to get when they listened to it was like if we actually sat down together to play and you were in the middle of it, you were in the room," Andrews said. "It's just honest representation of what the music sounds like when we play it."

What the music sounds like actually runs a range - from what could be a lost track from the "Les Triplettes de Belleville" with "The Princess," to a country curl with the closer "A Fool Such As I" (once recorded by Hank Snow).

The album is a mixture of traditional tracks, Dwayne and Duane-styled existing material and original works. All of the songs strike a chord for the musicians, as the liner notes for the album explain.

For example, an original piece from CÔtÉ, "Pipe Reels," is "a blast of pipe reels composed by Dwayne. The first was written for his father, Gordon CÔtÉ, who was a piper in the Black Watch as well as a renowned fiddler."

Only one song does not have an associated explanation - Andrews' original, "The Chocolatier's Lament."

"I used to call it 'Isaac's Waltz,' for my son. Everything becomes 'Isaac something,'" Andrews said. "'The Chocolatier's Lament'... it came out of cooking chocolate in the kitchen one night." It was the first attempt by Andrews to make chocolates with the assistance of his four-year-old. Listening to Andrews' tune, it is easy to picture the kitchen disaster.

"We wanted to represent each of us, but we also wanted to represent the concept of bringing together those two different styles of music. So when we chose the tunes that went on there, I think that was the idea was to represent all of these different ideas that we had," he said.

When representing Andrews, there is still one name to be said: Django Reinhardt.

"We just took one song that Django wrote, but then this one here, No. 2 ('Tears'), is a song that Django recorded, then if you listen to all of them, they kind of sound like the way Django would play in a way, so I still feel like he's very central to my sound on the guitar," he said.

In fact, "Tears" was recorded by Reinhardt with the French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, who had a famous partnership with Reinhardt. The two founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France performance group in 1934.

It is interesting to listen back and forth between the Reinhardt and Grappelli version of "Tears" and the Andrews and CÔtÉ version. It's hard to decide which to like better. As for the modern pairing, their music mixes well, much like the men themselves, Andrews said.

"The relationship we've formed ... it does come from seeing something that's really similar that we share, but at the same time we see the other side of us in a way. We're very different," he said. "Maybe he's the talker and I'm the quiet one, or he's the funny one and I'm the straight man." Whatever the description, they are making an impression.

"When people refer to us, it's usually as Duane and Dwayne," said the guitarist. "It seems like everything is becoming Duane and Dwayne, like the website is Duane and Dwayne dot com."

The two have already played dates from Halifax to Sydney to Lewiston, Maine. They are currently scheduled to play two dates in Newfoundland before returning to Nova Scotia for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival.

Their shows in Newfoundland will include a date at the Princess Sheila NaGeira Theatre in Carbonear on June 4 (for more info, phone: 709-596-7529). The second date will be at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall at Memorial University's School of Music on June 5. Tickets will be $15 at the door.

For those interested but unable to make the show, the "Dwayne CÔtÉ & Duane Andrews" CD is available at select retailers and online at www.maplemusic.com and iTunes.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Dwayne CÔtÉ & Duane Andrews, The Telegram, The Ship Quintette du Hot Club de France Princess Sheila NaGeira Theatre School of Music

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Halifax, St. John's Ireland United Arab Emirates Newfoundland Sydney Lewiston, Maine Nova Scotia Carbonear

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  • Phill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    After just having presented them at four venues here in Maine I can only say the combination is truly electrifying. It is a must see. The energy derived from this duo is unlike anything I have had on stage before. They are both very much in the same grove no matter which style they are playing in.

    Phill McIntyre; New England Celtic Arts

  • Phill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    After just having presented them at four venues here in Maine I can only say the combination is truly electrifying. It is a must see. The energy derived from this duo is unlike anything I have had on stage before. They are both very much in the same grove no matter which style they are playing in.

    Phill McIntyre; New England Celtic Arts