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Air France Present Django Reinhardt NY Festival

Air France

Birdland
315 West 44th Street
Starring: Samson Schmitt, Ludovic Beier, Pierre Blanchard, Doudou Cuillerier, Antonio Licusati
Special Guests: Anat Cohen (8/2), Peter Beets (8/3-4), Jorge Continentino and Itaiguara Brandao (8.5-6), Jazzmeia Horn (8/7)
Produced by Pat Phillips-Stratta
August 2 to 7, 2016

As they begin their 17th year, Django Reinhardt All Stars has just toured the country, bringing the joyful legacy of the inimitable, insinuating style of Django Reinhardt's "jazz manouche," and ending their tour in their New York home, Birdland.  Swinging hard and hot, with imaginative arrangements and musical virtuosity, they continue the legacy, capturing the fervor of gypsy music just as Django did in the 1930's and '40's, when he created jazz history.  

 The gypsy style of jazz manouche is a stylized sweep of swing, exhilarating speed and virtuosity. Django's music ranged from vibrant energy to evocative love songs, enlivening clubs and cabarets and inspiring background music for films like Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown as well as Chocolat.  In their songbook are Django standards, popular tunes, a few original works, tangos, ballads, and always swing. 

 “It’s the hippest music out there, at least in my opinion,” said co-producer of the Festival, Pat Philips, in an interview with Jazz.com.

 Staying in the Django mood, the group's leader is riveting guitarist, Samson Schmitt (the son of French gypsy guitarist, Dorado Schmitt), whose flying fingers have explored the rhythm guitar all his life.  He has played with such greats as Paquito D'Rivera, George Benson, Joe Lovano, Ken Peplowski, when they were guests of the All Stars. 

 Another energetic musician on rhythm guitar is Doudou Cuilerier, also adding an audience-pleasing scat vocal.  Parisian Ludovic Beier boosts the gypsy sound playing both accordion and accordina (a mouth accordion).  Violinist Pierre Blanchard is a technically blistering violinist who was awarded Stephane Grappelli's "Le Violon de Michel Warlop" award in 1984 for France's outstanding jazz violin. On this night, Blanchard begins a slumbering introduction to "Tea For Two" and as the others step in, his violin kicks out in all directions.  Antonio Licusati keeps the rhythm going on bass. 

 The guest artist on this opening night is Israel-born virtuoso, Anat Cohen on saxophone and clarinet.  She is outstanding sitting in with the band when they break out in a no-holds-barred finale, "Ochi Chornia (Dark Eyes)" wresting out every nuance of melody and rhythm with musical elasticity.

 This music is keeping alive the legacy of Django Reinhardt and his "hot jazz" that captured the attention of generations and continues to do so