Thursday, November 15, 2012

Django Festival @ Birdland 11/7/12

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 amazing.

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 biggest fans.

This event is produced by Pat Philips & Ettore Stratta.

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