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DjangoFest, Mill Valley, CA June 6-8 2014

jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
in North America Posts: 617
All you gypsy jazzers in northern California don't forget DjangoFest Mill Valley June 6-8, 2014. The lineup seems phenomenal this year with Robin & Kevin Nolan & Pearl Django on Fri., Hot Club d'Europe (Paulus Schäfer, Tim Kliphuis, Olli Soikkeli and Simon Planting) and Trio Dinicu Sat., Rhythm Future Quartet, led by DjangoFest regular, Jason Annick and Olli Soikkeli, the Finnish Phenom and capping it all of with a gypsy All-Star Djam on Sunday afternoon. There are great workshops both Sat. and Sunday morning and afternoon.


  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 617
    Here is a quick "amateur" review of my Djangofest Mill Valley experience for the Friday evening concert with Pearl Django and the Robin Nolan Trio plus the Robin Nolan workshop Sat. at noon.
    Pearl Django opened and I was a bit worried when they announced they would be doing mostly originals at a "DjangoFest". But they pulled it off very well mixing in a couple Django tunes. Everything was in the style of Django and played with style and finesse. Of the two guitarists, Ryan Hoffman seemed to play the most solid lead and rhythm, with great ideas and a very nice sound. Troy Chapman definitely had the chops and super fast runs but could be the guy who could benefit from playing less notes with more feeling. Part of the problem could be either his guitar or amplification which left the low to mid tones a bit muffled. Everybody else played well, especially the bass player, Rick Leppanen.

    The Robin Nolan Trio followed and I was a bit disappointed that Kevin Nolan was a no show. **** stepped in and didn't seem to miss a beat, however, playing solid rhythm throughout the set. Robin was the ultimate showman with solid lead, extended chord melodies, rhythmic flourishes and interesting stories about the songs played. Robin seems to know every trick in the book and while he may not be as stylistic as Gonzalo or Joscho, at times he seems to bridge the gap between Gypsy swing and straight ahead jazz with his chord and octave runs. Robin was playing a borrowed Gitane model courtesy of Saga, and he made it sing.

    Robin Nolan’s Gypsy Jazz Workshop was good for the first hour although we covered only one song, Swing Gitane, for the entire hour. A full house of 22 enthralled guitar players of all levels presented challenges, but Robin handled it with expertise presenting the chords, melody and a bit of soloing. The second hour seemed to tax Robin as there wasn't a lot of instruction other than a few licks and two song jams at the end, including Swing Gitane, yet again. In Robin's defense, he had to do the Mastering Gypsy Jazz Rhythm workshop for his brother Kevin at 10:00 AM as Kevin was stuck in Europe, and it appeared that he may have run out of gas. This was my first Gypsy Jazz workshop and I had spent quite a few hours working on the eight songs listed in the promo, so I was disappointed that more material was not presented. It will be nice to say that I had the chance to play rhythm guitar for Robin Nolan once, however.
  • Posts: 9
    I got a festival pass, attended both of Robin's workshops. I did not know what to expect in the workshops, and with the number of students, all levels and needs, it was hard to get everyone on the same page. Would be nice if we could have all known the chords ahead of time. Still, it's hard to organize such an event and have to perform as well. I got a lot out of them. If we could just get rid of those Mando players (Just kidding!)

    As for the performances, I really enjoyed every one of them. I'll leave the first night's review as is. Saturday night, I liked the way it was presented: Trio Dinicu first, performing lots of musette's, waltzes and even Czardas! The aforementioned **** lead the trio - he played rhythm the night before with Robin. Lots of temp changes, interplay between the fiddle and guitar, and a song in 7/8 time. The violin player was incredible. Her bowing technique was definitely from classical training.

    Next was Hot Club of Europe minus Paulus Shafer. I wish they would get their visa problems ironed out. Not to worry, Olli Soikkeli and Tim Kliphius led the way, putting on a memorable show, that really swung.

    Sunday was Rhythm Future Quartet with Olli and Jason Annick leading the way. (Sorry for not mentioning the bass players, they were rock solid and entertaining, but I can't remember their names). After their set there was a "jam" session, which was mostly different combinations of the performers, playing songs that were more rehearsed than jamming. That's ok, It was very entertaining. Nice little after-party at the bar down the street.

    Did anyone attend Olli's workshop?

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