Spirit of Django Reinhardt 2006
(Django Reinhardt Bio)
Dorado Schmitt, Lead Guitar; Tchavolo Schmitt, Lead Guitar;
Samson Schmitt, Lead and Rhythm Guitar;
Ludovic Beier, Accordion and Accordina;
Florin Niculescu, Violin; Brian Torff, Bass;
Peter Beets, Piano; Joel Frahm, Sax
At Rose Theater
Frederick P. Rose Hall
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Produced by Stratta/Philips Productions
Ettore Stratta and Pat Philips
Presented by The Grand Marnier Foundation.
Additional Sponsors: Stolichnaya Russian Vodka, RD Wright, Inc., The Buckingham Hotel, Dellí Arte Instruments, WBGO 88.3 FM, John Pearse Strings, The Village Voice, and Midori & Friends Foundation, John and Joan DíAddario Foundation.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 1, 2006
(See Spirit of Django Reinhardt 2005). (See Django Reinhardt Festival at Birdland 2005). (See Dorado Schmitt CD Review).
Once again, Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta brought us the acclaimed Django Reinhardt virtuosi from France: Dorado Schmitt; his son, Samson Schmitt; and a NY debut artist, Tchavolo Schmitt, Doradoís cousin. Also back onstage were: Ludovic Beier, from France, on accordion and his handmade accordina (sort of a harmonica/accordion); Brian Torff, a New Yorker, Music Director and bassist; Romanian, Florin Niculescu, on violin; and Peter Beets, from Holland, on piano, and Joel Frahm, on tenor saxophone (who have both appeared in the similar, Birdland Django Reinhardt Festival). Rose Theater, a new venue for this event, as Alice Tully Hall is under construction, was perfectly suited and very packed. Acoustics and sight lines were superb, and the Spirit of Django Reinhardt ensemble performed in numerous configurations, as always, to showcase each musician, as well as various duos and trios.
There were two sets tonight, and during the first, Brian Torff, Peter Beets, Ludovic Beier, and Samson Schmitt played in quartet with rapid guitar fingering, solos on bass and piano, and a rich accordion riff. Bossa Dorado brought Tchavolo out as lead, passed to Peter Beets and then Samson. Sweet Sue was next, on the heels of It Had To Be You. Tchavolo went wild with this natural tune with an atonal introduction and tricky theme. Florin Niculescu came onstage to tease the audience with classical violin passages that led to Itís All Right with Me, a tune once sung by Frank Sinatra. Dorado, in his signature striped, pastel suit (intentionally similar to that of his son), led the next song, one of his own compositions.
How High the Moon brought out Joel Frahm on tenor sax, in contrasting rhythm to Ludovicís melodic hurricane. Joel ended in a solo, a melancholy refrain, with a twisting waterfall of notes, mostly off the scale. The second set began with a rare bass solo, and Brian Torff finally got to show the Django fans his unique talent. He ended with Amazing Grace. What Is This Thing Called Love?, a Cole Porter tune, followed, and its exquisite emotionality was expressed through a heart-rending violin, a passionate piano, and Ludovicís astounding accordion. Each song tonight was a highlight, but this moment was especially memorable. Body and Soul and All of Me were the final two songs, and Florin added zest and pizzazz in this fashionable finale. Kudos to tonightís musicians, and kudos to the producers, Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta, for another outstanding production, in tribute to Django Reinhardt.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Entrance
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower
Dorado Schmitt, Florin Niculescu, Samson Schmitt at After-Concert Gathering
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower