The Gypsy Hombres are a trio of formidable Nashville pickers comprising leader/violinist Peter Hyrka (who also produced the disc), bassist David Spicher, and guitarist Justin Thompson. When they got together to record some Christmas tunes, they took a refreshingly unorthodox approach, meshing the feistiness of Le Hot Club of Paris, the noirish sensibility of the Hot Club of Cowtown, and some spice by way of western swing and traditional country. Instrumentals all, the tunes on Django Bells are familiar, but you'll never hear, say, "Here Comes Santa Claus" done anywhere else as it is here. Hyrka sets the stage with a sinister, steadily rising violin intro, allowing his Hombres to follow -- Spicher with a thumping bass line, Thompson strumming steadily -- before he jumps back in with an angular solo and then cedes again to Thompson's ebullient single-string run. As an approach, it works beautifully time and again, on the likes of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Blue Christmas/Let It Snow," "Sleigh Ride," and an especially deft reimagining of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" that combines the formalism of the classical composition with a loping, Great Plains pace. Naturally, the group make nods to guitarist Django Reinhardt and Gypsy sensibilities with skittish rhythms and the romantic ambiance conjured by the violin-guitar dialogue, but the sure-handed infusion of other compatible styles makes for a heady mixture indeed. Lay off the eggnog when you put this disc on -- these intoxicating instrumental flights need no added stimulus.