By Punch Pep Correspondent Elizabeth Fischer
Summer weather like today makes me reminisce about all things â€œcoolâ€ â€“ days like this past Wednesday when humidity was not the operative word â€“ days when you want to be outside â€“ having patio lunches or happy hours on rooftops.Â Remembering those days when your college professors were kind enough to have class outside; or thinking about the sweater to grab to ward off the chill when night descends.Â While cool is on my mind, TODAY also reminds me of the allure of ice cream and swimming pools.Â It also makes me think of steam â€“ steam that surges because of hot summer nights or packed clubs (St. Elmoâ€™s Fire comes to mind) â€“ steam that defines the New Orleansâ€™ Jazz scene.
I grew up listening to live Jazz in the Soulard Market in St. Louis Missouri.Â I love closing my eyes and feeling the music â€“ just being in that time and place without outside distractions.Â Jazz is timeless with its own nooks and crannies â€“ its own depth of character â€“ as different and unique as the artists themselves but with a peace and tranquility all its own â€“ a sameness.Â Jazz keeps me present and yet catapults me back to the roaring 20s.Â A time in history celebrated for its opulence, change, forward thinking, shorter skirts, shorter hair, & new era of hats.Â It transcends the ages.Â It invites you to dance or listen or sway with the musician â€“ head bob, finger snap or leg tap â€“ eyes closed.Â It is and can be all encompassing.
In DC and the surrounding areas this week and weekend, Jazz is being celebrated by an event called DC DJANGOFOLIES.Â It is the perfect way to cool down and yet stay warm without baking.Â This is a first but I anticipate will become annual!
About Djangofolies: (by Stephan Caucheteux & the Hot Club of DC)
In the Paris of the 1930s, when French â€“ Belgian born – Guitarist Django Reinhardt started to perform at the Hot Club of France with Violinist Stephan Grappelli, he created one of the biggest European contributions to Jazz: Gypsy Jazz. With two disabled fingers on his left hand, he invented new licks and voicings, and created a new jazz musical vocabulary on which he built this new genre with a quintet of only stringed instruments: the Quintet of the Hot Club of France.
Like all jazz musicians, Django borrowed the music of the greatest and made it his own to develop his style: inspired by Classical musicians, popular Singers, Ballroom music and of course American Jazz â€“ not to mention Duke Ellington and Charlie Christian.
More than 100 years later, Gypsy Jazz is now part of everyoneâ€™s Jazz heritage. Jazz bands and artists now borrow the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli and incorporate it to their music. Today, Everyone plays Gypsy Jazz.
For the first time, in Washington, Baltimore, Annapolis, the DC Djangofolies showcase the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli as we reinvented it today. Â Â The showcase features Internationally acclaimed Artists and local bands at multiple venues in the area starting Sunday, June 24th and continuing through Sunday, July 1st.Â All shows are independent and have to be booked separately with the venue.
I ventured my way out to see DCâ€™s own Mary Alouette (look for write-up featuring an interview & separate evening of Jazz at Strathmoreâ€™s Music Room) at An die Musik Live!Â The name of the venue alone piqued my inner childâ€™s intrigue.Â I enjoyed a night listening to a true talent â€“ someone who will be known in the Gypsy Jazz circles â€“ and mainstream, as well.Â She has a natural talent and a love for what she does.Â Her take on Gypsy Jazz is unique and well worth a trip to see her play when she is in town next.Â Her first CD is available for purchase.
SheÂ is a gypsy jazz vocalist with a penchant for beautiful music and dangerous rhythm.Â The music of Django Reinhardt, opera, and electronic music segue into gypsy jazz in original compositions.Â Mary was recently an Artist-in-Residence at the Strathmore Music Center in Maryland and released an EP of gypsy jazz originals, titled Midas, in April.Â The Maryland native has sung the National Anthem for the Orioles, the Nationals, and DC United before stadium crowds, competed at the Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater’s National Tour. Sheâ€™s also performed at venues like Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and studied and performed classical voice at the Schlern International Music Festival in the Italian Alps and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.
While this time around you will not be able to hear Mary, there are 6 other acts worth your time.Â For information visit: http://dcdjangofolies.com/
Playing FRIDAY, JUNE 29THt: Susan Jones @ 8PM @ 49 West Coffeehouse in Annapolis, MD
Violin Dreams might just be the ultimate title to describe the Susan Jones Jazz Quartet-the swinging, energetic and highly entertaining group led by violinist Susan Jones. Â After studying classical violin and discovering the sounds of legendary jazz great, Stephane Grappelli, Jones’ number one dream and lifelong passion has been jazz performance.
Also playing FRIDAY, JUNE 29TH: The Red Hot Rhythm Chiefs (appropriate name for the weather) at 8:30 PM at Glen Echo Park â€“ Gottaswing.
The Red Hot Rhythm Chiefs were formed out of a common passion for hot, gypsy style jazz, and over a beer or two in 2007. Â Jon Steele is on bass, Craig Gildner is on guitar/cornet/vocal, Jeff Reynolds is on fiddle and Tom McLaughlin is on guitar.
Started as a side project in 2007-8 by Mssrs. Reynolds and Gildner as an outlet to do the marvelous music of Django Reinhardt and company, the band has performed for lindy hoppers who like fast tempos and revelers of all ages. Â Recent events include 2009 ILHC, and the yearly Prohibition Ball held every December in DC.
Drop-in beginner swing lessons with Tom & Debra from 8:30 to 9; band plays two extended sets 9 â€“ 11:30.Â I know where I am going to be tonight!
Saturday â€“ performances by Kruno Å piÅ¡iÄ‡ at 7PM and Icelandic Musician BjÃ¶rn Thoroddsen.
Sunday â€“ performances by Public Jam @ 1PM at the New Deal CafÃ© in Greenbelt, MD and by The Woodshedders @ 7:30PM.
Attorney Elizabeth Fischer is Punch Pep Correspondent. She is working as an Entrepreneur, Lawyer and Student (environmental studies), covering events for Pamela’s Punch as a generalist correspondent. When she is not working, studying or playing soccer or tennis, she is walking her pups, traveling the globe, running marathons, and enjoying all DC has to offer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.