I was going through live music withdrawal and had to get out. It was the nor'easter, but not that bad in snow boots and a full length down coat. It's also convenient that Birdland is so close to the 42nd St A-C-E exit. I couldn't take those trains easily because the L was still down. I took the N-R-Q to 42nd St and walked underground to 44th and 8th. It was great.
I enjoyed the set a lot. It was about an
hour and twenty. It was the same promoter that did the Tango show I saw
with Regina Carter at Birdland a few months ago. The Django music
reminded me a lot of the tango music. They have an accordion instead of
a bandoneon. They both often have violins. There were similarities in
the music. Neither has drums or percussion.
The Django festival
band is a special ensemble that only comes together for these shows. I
think they are all from France except the special guest saxophone
players, which are different each night. It's a family affair. Dorado
Schmitt is the father and apparently an old-time great Django style
guitar and violin player as well as composer. His son Samson plays
guitar and he and the bass player were the only ones on stage the entire
time. Another son of Dorado also plays guitar and was out for a
couple. This was his first time playing at Birdland. There were some
excellent other members as well: the violin and accordion were
I was especially compelled to go to this show because it
was the night Anat Cohen was the special guest. She played the soprano
sax for the 3-4 pieces she sat in on. Her clarinet was there, she just didn't pay it that set. She
played some things on the soprano you might normally hear from a tenor.
For one piece the notes were lower and longer than what I usually hear
from a soprano. It was excellent. There were also more customary
soprano sounds at times.
It was great!
From the listing:
Legendary gypsy guitarist/composer Dorado Schmitt from the Lorraine area
of France, in the tradition of Manouche gypsy life and culture, taught
his 3 sons to follow in his footsteps and become jazz afficionados in
the style of the great late Django Reinhardt, renowned gypsy guitarist.
Schmitt is known for his harmonious melodies, brilliant improvisations
and extraordinary technique. He has performed at festivals around the
world and with top Jazz luminaries Oscar Peterson, The Pizzarelli’s,
George Benson, Paquito D’Rivera, James Carter and more.
Performing alongside their Dad on the Birdland stage will be Amati -
17, Bronson – 20, and Samson now in his early 30’s who grew up
performing at The Festival. In addition will be cousin Francko, also a
guitarist. Ludovic Beier, (accordionist/accordina player) and Pierre
Blanchard (violinist), favorites on the scene, will also be part of the
Schmitt family happening. On bass will be Xavier Nikq.
Plus Special Guests
Tuesday 11/6 - Ken Peplowski (Clarinet)
Wednesday 11/7 - Anat Cohen (Sax and Clarinet)
Thursday 11/8 - Nicki Parrott (Bass and Vocals)
Friday 11/9 and Saturday 11/10 - Jisoo Ok (Cello) *with a special arrangement of Django's famous composition "Nuages"
Sunday 11/11 - Stephane Seva (Washboards)
All are from France where Django lived most of his life and where he
teamed with Jazz violin great Stephane Grappelli to form one of the most
popular partnerships in history which created a musical style that’s
surging all over the US and world. The music is virtuosic, infectious,
romantic, entertaining, and to this day sets toes tapping compulsively
and hearts swooning. The legend endures.
Django’s unmistakable cool and jumpin’ joie de vivre have made him an
icon for an unikely range of luminaries from Carlos Santana to Tony
Iommi. Jimi Hendrix named his “Band of Gypsies” in tribute; Willie
Nelson adopted his influence in “country-swing”; Sean Penn played a
Django-obsessed swing guitarist in Woody Allen’s ‘Sweet and Lowdown’;
and Leonardo DiCaprio proudly was backed by Django’s music on the
soundtrack of Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’ and is still one of Django’s
This event is produced by Pat Philips & Ettore Stratta.