When Biréli Lagrène's Routes to Django: Live was issued in 1980, the 13-year-old jazz guitarist was immediately praised by critics as a protégé of Django Reinhardt. He had already won a prize in a festival at Strasbourg in 1978, and his appearance at a Gypsy festival was broadcast on television.
The occasion for this trio to work together was a 2010 concert that celebrated violinist Jean-Luc Ponty's 50th anniversary as a recording artist. Both the violinist and Stanley Clarke had collaborated before (a previous electric trio set with Al Di Meola, the Rite Of Strings was issued in 1995), but neither had collaborated with French jazz guitarist Bireli Lagrene prior to that evening. In playing for a mere 20 minutes, they created the impetus for D-Stringz – though it took two years for them to clear their schedules and get into a Brussels studio. These ten tunes are an assortment of standards and originals. The album is an acoustic, straight-ahead date that employs flawless swinging bop and post-bop, as well as 21st century takes on gypsy and soul-jazz and funk.
The unique all-star group featured on this live set from 1994 had not only never performed together before as a band, but most of the musicians had never been on the same stage with each other before. Miles Davis had passed away three years earlier, so the two Marcus Miller pieces, "Tutu" (which sounds surprisingly similar to "So What" during the solos even if the chords are different) and "The King Is Gone" are in tribute to the late trumpeter. "The King Is Gone" is a straight-ahead extended blues, while "Looking Up" has heated solos over a simple vamp. Overall, Kenny Garrett and Michel Petrucciani generally take solo honors (Biréli Lagrène is a bit overshadowed), while Miller and Lenny White keep the rhythms stimulating. Although the three selections are each quite extended, they hold one's interest throughout.