Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fall under the musical spell of Gypsy jazz

Pearl Django to perform

Express Staff Writer

Voted Seattle’s best area jazz band by the public, Pearl Django plays authentic Gypsy jazz. Courtesy photo

   Django Reinhardt’s musical legacy of Gypsy jazz has long been the oyster, incubating imitators and aspirant musicians for decades. But only the best become the pearls.
    And one of those precious few, Pearl Django, will be playing here Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood as part of the Sun Valley Artist Series.
    “Pearl Django: The gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt done to perfection!” wrote Paul de Barros in The Seattle Times.
    The group’s inception was as a trio in Tacoma, Wash., in 1994 with the focus of incorporating the music of Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli with American swing music. That grew to a quintet, with the addition of a violinist and a third guitarist. An appearance on NPR’s “All Things Considered” blew open the doors for the group, leading it to perform in France for the Festival Django Reinhardt and continue performing around the U.S. and Canada, as well as to produce 11 CDs.
    Members today are Troy Chapman and Ryan Hoffman on guitar, David Lange on accordion, Michael Gray on violin and Rick Leppanen on bass.
    The band’s signature style is marked by pristine and dexterous string work, colors of Bal Musette, the steady pulse of rhythm guitar and an unmistakable swing that delights audiences of all musical sensibilities. Throughout the years, Pearl Django has cultivated a devoted and enthusiastic following and they continue to play to packed houses wherever they perform.    
    “Pearl Django is an immensely popular group of consummate jazz musicians, and we absolutely love their music,” said Sun Valley Artist Series Executive Director Steve Gannon, whose wife, Susan Dunning, is the organization’s artistic director. “We think this concert is going to be one to remember.” 

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