Gypsy jazz slides into Earshot home stretch

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
edited November 2005 in Welcome Posts: 6,155
Journalists never fail to make you sound like a complete idiot...oh well.

Direct link to this article in the Seattle Times:

Gypsy jazz slides into Earshot home stretch

By Paul de Barros

Seattle Times jazz critic

Seattle loves its modern jazz, as the avid crowds for the Earshot Jazz Festival have shown the past two weeks.

As we head into Earshot's home stretch, you might consider taking a breather for some traditional Gypsy jazz from France at the Django Reinhardt Festival.

Two of the most respected Gypsy jazz practitioners in the world hit the Jazz Alley festival this weekend. Guitarist Dorado Schmitt and violinist Pierre Blanchard play a three-night stand with Dorado's son, Samson (guitar), Ludovic Beier (accordion) and Brian Torff (bass), who toured with the great violinist Stephane Grappelli.

This is one of the groups featured in the outstanding film about Gypsy music, "Latcho Drom."

The Django Reinhardt Festival runs today through Sunday ($23.50; 206-441-9729 or Call for set times.

Reinhardt was a Belgian-born Gypsy guitarist whose Quintet of the Hot Club of France popularized a style in the 1930s that showcased animated solos for guitar and violin, accompanied by a chugging phalanx of rhythm guitars.

Gypsy jazz has enjoyed a huge revival in the past decade. Seattle is the American epicenter of the movement, boasting one of its most popular groups, Pearl Django.

"It's really weird," says Reinhardt expert and guitarist Michael Horowitz, who runs a Web site out of Ballard called "There must be 15 bands playing here. Django-

fest Northwest (a fall festival in Langley, Whidbey Island) is the biggest Django Reinhardt festival in North America."

The Django style is characterized by a crisp attack and loud sound, achieved, says Horowitz, by striking individual strings hard with a pick, then resting the pick on the string below. The technique is called the "rest stroke."

Of the many Django revival greats that have passed our way recently, Dorado — he goes by only one name — is especially compelling. Dorado hails from the western French province of Lorraine, one of four major stylistic regions of Gypsy jazz. (The others are Paris, Holland/Benelux and Germany.)

Jaunty and buoyant, Dorado plays with the big sound, crazy speed and romantic passion of Django himself, and a feeling Horowitz describes as "earthy." Dorado's tune, "Bossa Dorado," has become a Gypsy jazz standard.

His partner in crime, the conservatory-trained Blanchard, teaches in Switzerland and was recognized by Grappelli as a young master. No die-hard traditionalist, Blanchard has recorded with Martial Solal and Ornette Coleman. Dorado, for his part, recorded an album of Wes Montgomery-style jazz.

"When you hear these guys, you get the feeling they live the music," says Horowitz, "They're the salt of the earth."

Meanwhile, some stellar Earshot concerts remain, often several each night. Here are my picks:

• Today, the brooding Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson plays the Triple Door.

• Saturday, it's a toss-up between the ebullient Los Angeles composer Gerald Wilson with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, at Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall, and improvising vocalist Jay Clayton, in a reunion with drummer Jerry Granelli and soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom at Consolidated Works.

• Sunday, the Seattle Chamber Players' "Seattle Mavericks" program, featuring avant-garde works by Bill Smith, Stuart Dempster, Trimpin and Wayne Horvitz, is at Nordstrom Recital Hall.

For the complete program, go to

Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or <!-- e --><a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a><!-- e -->


  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,752
    "They're the salt of the earth."

    So that makes me, what? The dill weed of the earth?

    I kid, I kid,
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