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Django Reinhardt NY Festival
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Django Reinhardt NY Festival

- Jazz Corner

Jazz and Cabaret Performance Reviews

Django Reinhardt NY Festival
At Birdland
315 West 44th Street, NYC
212.581.3080
www.birdlandjazz.com
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager

Produced by Stratta/Philips Productions
Ettore Stratta and Pat Philips
212.744.8836
patmusic2@aol.com


Sponsored by Wild Turkey Bourbon, Jolly Hotels, Dell’Arte Instruments, Douglas P. Reetz, The Village Voice, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

French Ensemble – Dorado Schmitt (Gypsy Guitar), Samson Schmitt (Gypsy Rhythm Guitar), and Ludovic Beier (Swing Accordion). German Ensemble – Joscho Stephan (Guitar Virtuoso), Gunter Stephan (Rhythm Guitar), and Maximilian Schaaf (Swing Bass). Belgium – Alexandre Cavaliere (Gypsy Violin). Musical Director – Brian Torff (Bass). Special Guests – James Carter (Jazz Saxophone Virtuoso), Vitali Imereli (Gypsy Violin Virtuoso), Enrico Granafei (Harmonica Virtuoso), Grady Tate (Virtuoso on Drums), and Ken Peplowski (Clarinet Virtuoso). With Gordon Lane on Drums.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 18, 21, 22, 23, 2003

Django Reinhardt (guitarist) and Stephane Grappelli (Violinist) were stars in the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which performed in the 1930's in Paris. The Quintet was extremely popular and played jazz and pop standards from the 1920's and 1930's. Django Reinhardt, on gypsy guitar, was considered a genius. He created a very original style of swing music and influenced jazz dancers and musicians over the past decades. In fact, Swing Bands love to play "Le Jazz Hot" for avid Swing dancers at special events.

November 18, 2003

On each night of this Django Reinhardt Festival, the German ensemble of Joscho Stephan, Maximilian Schaaf, and Gunter Stephan (Joscho's father) opened the set with rousing, hot swing, on gypsy and rhythm guitars and bass. Tonight, Grady Tate joined the group on his seasoned drums, and Alexandre Cavaliere, a 17 year-old violinist from Belgium, filled Birdland with extreme and exquisite music that soared and sung the contrasting, danceable tunes. The combo of drums and brushes (Gordon Lane) as backup gave a dynamic, sensual rhythm during the addition of various musicians that switched leads and seats onstage. Alexandre's violin was added in bits and pieces and songs developed and morphed into refrains from yet other memorable standards.

The French ensemble of Dorado Schmitt (Samson's father), Samson Schmitt, and Ludovic Beier, with Brian Torff on sensational bass, gave some signature melodies a moody and melancholy feel, with father and son in total sync. In fact, Dorado and Samson have an incredible psychological connection that works throughout the evening, with eye contact and endless smiles. Alexandre went wild in What Is This Thing Called Love?.

The Stratta/Philips style of intermingling jazz musicians in varied combinations worked quite well tonight, as Alexandre joined the German and French ensembles, and then the ensembles mixed and joined each other. Ludovic Beier created a rambunctious rhythm, and it was hard for a Swing dancer such as I to sit still. Brian Torff is a master on solo bass, and his effortless solos and backup effects were sensational. For I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Dorado picked up his violin and kicked up the excitement and energy with tremendous improvisations.


Ludovic Beier, Dorado Schmitt, Samson Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Joscho Stephan on Guitar
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Grady Tate and the Musicians
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ettore Stratta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Brad and Phyllis
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Dorado, Grady, and Hans Meelen
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Grady Tate
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Dorado and Pat Philips
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Dorado, Brad, and Phyllis
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Erica Poses
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Erica Poses
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Erica, Tarik, and Dorado
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Samson, Ludovic, and Alexandre Cavaliere
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Bill Moss and Alexandre
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Joscho, Bill, and Pat
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Bar Scene
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Tarik Poses
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Maximilian Schaaf, Gunter Stephan, and Joscho
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower





November 21, 2003

Tonight, the German ensemble of Joscho, Gunter, and Maximilian began this sold-out event at Birdland, and the audience was electrified. The music was rapid and rare, with Ken Peplowski's clarinet piercing the edgy, spinning sounds. Vitali Imereli was in the Club, as well, and his solo passages and violin duets with Alexandre brought the audience to adoring accolades. Gordon Lane, although a background musician in this Festival, was now the solo percussionist, and he is steady and reliable in his rhythmic interpretations. Sweet Georgia Brown never sounded better.

The French ensemble was onstage next, and Alexandre's violin made this hot swing even hotter. Ludovic was rolling thunder on accordion, with hummingbird fingers, for this standing room only crowd. A mellow piece, composed by Dorado Schmitt, began with a very warm accordion passage that swelled with the intonations of a bandoneón performing a contemporary Tango, with searing and soulful melodies.

In All of Me, Ken Peplowski tore into the theme with a blazing clarinet, before handing the lead to Brian Torff for a brief, but ever so talented, improvisation. Then Gordon Lane and Dorado played in a trio formation with Ken Peplowski for added enhancement and excitement. When Vitali Imereli returned, I closed my eyes and envisioned Stephane Grappelli onstage tonight, as Dorado was so very Django, and the combinations with Samson were rare, romantic, and refined. The classical characterizations that Vitali imbued provided even more depth and sophistication to this wonderful concert.



Joscho Stephan and Father, Gunter
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Dorado Schmitt and Friend
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Roberta and Dorado
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Joscho and Dorado
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Mark Millen
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Gordon Lane
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Vitali Imereli and Ettore Stratta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




November 22, 2003

This was a grand night at the Django Reinhardt Festival, with James Carter on his wild saxophone, in accompaniment with the German and French ensembles. The Stephan father-son duo were in perfect synergy, and Gordon Lane and Alexandre seemed most relaxed, as the music in smaller and larger arrangements of musicians became even more improvisational and cohesive. Alexandre's violin strings were stretched and popping, as he moved his entire body to these rollicking, rolling rhythms of hot Swing. Dorado and Alexandre finished each other's rhythms on guitar and violin in repetitions and enhancements.

James Carter, a familiar face in this annual Festival, played mirror-image notes with the French ensemble, and Brian Torff on bass completed these jazzy and fused creations. Ludovic and Gordon Lane played combos on accordion and drums, and Dorado and Alexandre played duos on violins. In fact, Ludovic repeated the last notes of each phrase of the nightly rendition of What Is This Thing Called Love? on his resonant and sexy accordion. My favorite standard tonight was Days of Wine and Roses, with Samson on solo guitar and Ludovic swelling his accordion with earthiness and energy. This was truly a mellow, melodic moment of romance. James Carter's return included tiny, breathy notes on his sax to contrast with the tiny plucking sounds of the multiple guitars.


Alexandre Cavaliere and Harish Patel
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Roberta and Alexandre
Photo courtesy of Harish




James Carter Onstage
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




James Carter Up Close
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Joscho Up Close
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Three Guitars
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Joscho Goes Wild
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Dorado Takes the Lead
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ettore Stratta and Pat Philips
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Ettore, James Carter, and Roberta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Brian Torff and Roberta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




The Guys
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Samson Schmitt, Gordon Lane, and Maximilian Schaff
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Harish and Alexandre
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower





November 23, 2003

The German ensemble opened this set with a repeat of I Can't Give You Anything but Love, and Vitali Imereli returned tonight to begin and finish Joscho Stephan's fascinating rhythmic renditions. Tonight's roster of musicians included Enrico Granafei, whose harmonica sounded like two accordions. It is so rare to hear jazz harmonica, with so few musicians still playing this early jazz instrument, and duo violins of Alexandre and Dorado were a wonderfully blended accompaniment to Enrico's harmonica.

Dorado's piece for two violins, Souvenir, moody and melancholy, could have generated a foxtrot for a quiet interlude. Beautiful Black Eyes, a Russian tune, allowed for drum and bass solos and strong backup from Ludovic. The last piece of this set, Sweet Georgia Brown, was an audience favorite in this sold out, standing room only crowd.


Enrico Granafei on Harmonica
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Vitali Imereli on Violin
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Enrico and Samson Schmitt
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




The Guys
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Brian Torff and Friend
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower




Kudos to Stratta/Philips Productions, Inc., for another successful Django Reinhardt Festival this fall season. Kudos to Birdland for superb organization and hospitality.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net