Though San Franciscan George Cole cut his teeth as a rock guitarist, and was at one point a mentor to Billy Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt (soon to be famous as Green Day), it took the 50-year-old a few decades into his career to confess to his first love -- swing music of the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Not just any swing music, either -- Cole fell for both the Great American Songbook stuff and the "gypsy jazz" of the legendary Django Reinhardt and his Quintette du Hot Club de France.
Blending the fire of Reinhardt with the ice of, say, Cole Porter or Bing Crosby, might not seem like an obvious move, but Cole made it work, bathing his own compositions in the forgiving glow of nostalgic familiarity, and adding a healthy dose of instrumental virtuosity to the equation, as evidenced by the George Cole Quintet's latest effort, the sublime "Riverside Drive."
The George Cole Quintet brings its hybrid swing sound to the Sportsmen's Tavern (326 Amherst St.) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Admission will be $10 at the door. Visit www.sportsmenstavern.com for additional information.
-- Jeff Miers