Julien Labro (accordion, accordina); Evan Perri (guitar); Dave Bennett (clarinet); Paul Brady (rhythm guitar); Colton Weatherston (rhythm guitar); Shannon Wade (acoustic bass).
Back in 1930s Paris, the Hot Club de France kept music fans jumping and dance floors filled to their intricate and lively brand of gypsy jazz.
In 21st century Detroit, the fans are jumpin’ and the dance floors are filled, too–” this time to the sound of the Hot Club of Detroit, an electrifying and visionary ensemble that takes the traditions pioneered by Django Reinhardt and company and spins them in a way that’s both reverent and refreshingly contemporary.
Twenty-first-century jazz is built upon traditions started during the last century: big bands, Chicago-style bebop, even the avant-garde, and Miles Davis’ forays into rock and pop. There have been refinements as each new player adds their voice to the language of jazz, and each generation modifies the music of their lives. The traditions remain viable because they embody what listeners believe are major attributes of jazz music. As John Coltrane put it, “You’ve got to look back at the old things, and see them in a new light.”
In Paris, in 1934, in the Hot Club de France building on rue Chaptal a tradition began – Gypsy jazz, as popularized by the Hot Club’s Quintette, featuring Romany guitarist Django Reinhardt and anglo violinst Stephane Grappelli.
Django cut his teeth in the 20s at several Bals Musette, local dancehalls with attitude and an exotic, away-from-it-all atmosphere, playing banjo, an instrument that , Reinhardt biographer Michael Dregni tells us, “arrived, like the drum kit, via America in the hands of jazz-band and minstrel-show musicians.”
The strange instrument was soon incorporated like the Gypsy who played it, into the music at the Bals, a music which later absorbed the accordion. This was the music of Django’s youth, but he was much more interested in Louis Amstrong and Duke Ellington – their music transformed him from a banjo player into a jazz guitarist as ingenious as Eldon Shamblin, T-Bone Walker, or Eddie Lang, with overtones of bal Musette.
Django stayed with the all-string Quintette format until 1940, when, with the Nazi’s camped in Paris and Stephane living in WWII England, Django reformed the band. Michael Dregni wrote that “he styled his Nouveau Quintette (du Hot Club de France) on the small combo’s of Benny Goodman, doing away with the all-string sound and heavy-handed pompe rhythm. He strived for a sonority that was light and airy…”
Fifty-three years after his death, Reinhardt’s music continues to attract devotees. It caught the ear of 26 year old guitarist Evan Perri, founder of the Hot Club of Detroit, who believed that he could get a little modernistic with Django’s music and create something original.
© 2006 Mack Avenue Records, Inc.