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The Spirit of Django Reinhardt visits Kitsilano!
Thursday April 23, 2015

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Introduction - the musical legacy of Django Reinhardt 

In the early years of the last century France was a hotbed of musical collaboration. Roma, the travelling people whose origins can be traced back to Rajasthan and whose music can be traced in the brilliant movie Latcho Drom, would set up camp on the outskirts of Paris and other towns in France and Belgium. Dance halls featured the accordions and violins - and musette bagpipes - at dances called Bals Musettes. A young Roma named Django Reinhardt started out on banjo, playing dances with his uncles and brothers. He was a prodigiously talented young man, who later switched to guitar. He adapted the music of the Bals Musettes to blend with the guitar and fiddle music of the Roma, but he lost the use of two fingers of his left hand when his caravan caught fire in 1929. Teaching himself to play the guitar again, he was able to overcome his handicap and became one of the hottest and most celebrated guitar players of all time. He was always fascinated with musical innovation, and was a huge fan of American jazz, with Louis Armstrong a particular favourite. Indeed, he regarded the legendary cornet player as a kindred spirit. A chance meeting with violinist Stephane Grappelliled to the formation of the Quintet of the Hot Club Of France, whose music “defined” Paris between the wars. Known for their adaptations of American jazz standards and the rampant arpeggios of Django’s left hand, they were Europe’s most celebrated band and were on tour in England when war broke out in 1939. Grappelli chose to stay in London, but Django returned to France. How he survived the war and the concentration camps that befell many of his compatriot Roma people is something of a mystery, but can be accredited to the efforts of a German officer nicknamed Dr. Jazzand the wisdom of the German military in general, who realised that the lure of Parisian nightlife was a great recruiting tool for young German men! Django adapted his band’s sound by replacing Grappelli’s violin with the clarinet of Hubert Rostaing, and after the war realised a treasured ambition to tour the USA with another of his idols, Duke Ellington. Django died in 1953 in the village of Samois sur Seine, 70km east of Paris, where a huge music festival is held in his honour every June. Django remains - along with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Les Paul - one of the most influential guitar players of all time. The music of Django and Grappelli lives on in the cafes of Montmartre and theatres and dance halls and gypsy encampments throughout the western world. And right here in Vancouver we are blessed with some amazing players and singers.

What Is April In Paris?

After presenting several concerts and dances with The Hot Club Of Mars, Van Django, and The Bills - amongst others - it occurred to us that the local gypsy jazz scene was a phenomenon that deserved its own little celebration. April In Paris first blossomed in 2007, and it’s become one of our most popular recurring events. Over the past few years we have brought in world-renowned artists like the John Jorgenson Quintet, and Montreal’s Christine Tassan et les Imposteures, and the Denis Chang Quartet, plus bands from Seattle and Portland (Pearl Django, Hot Club Sandwich.) This year we celebrate the Canadian gypsy jazz scene with a variety of bands and artists at the peak of their creativity, yet staying true to the spirit of improvisation and exploration pioneered by Django and Grappelli.

Come along to "Paris" in Kitsilano this weekend. We promise you some scintillating music, swing dance lessons, and some delicious nibblies and refreshing beverages - all with a uniquely Parisian flavour ...


N.B. There is a weird glitch in our website, listing Saturday's show before Friday's show. I haven't been able to fix it. The sequence of shows is as follows below. 


Tickets are on sale at Highlife Records, Prussin Music, Red Cat Records, Rufus' Guitar Shop, and online - just select the show you want to see:


SPECIAL OFFER: Come to the shows on Friday and Saturday and we'll give you Sunday's show for free

Friday, April 24th 8pm

Cabaret / Burlesque Night
w/ Deanna Knight & The Hot Club Of Mars

St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Tickets $30 ($26 members)

The festival kicks off with Cabaret / Burlesque Night featuring Deanna Knight & The Hot Club of Mars and guests. Travel back in time to a Parisian Cabaret in the 1930’s and experience one of Vancouver’s most eclectic gypsy-swing ensembles. Enjoy a fun-filled repertoire including original compositions, tango, bossa, boogie, Hawaiian - with a little bit of Burlesque and the spirit of Le Moulin Rouge (Moulin Rogue?). Gypsy Jazz from traditional to the unusual will unfold in an evening cabaret kicking off with a swing dance lesson and featuring The Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret Chorus Line, burlesque dancer Voracious V and performance artist and mime Dianna David. The Hot Club Of Mars have recorded two CDs to date: Gypsy Fire, and Kiss Of Fire. The band features Deanna Knight on vocals, Michael Dunn, Steve Szabo and Don Kellett on guitars, Mark Dowding on sax, flute and harmonica, Tom Nevilleon fiddle, & Charlie Knowles on bass.

 Tickets and info for Friday's Cabaret can be found here

Saturday April 25th 8pm

Christine Tassan et les Imposteures
Marc Atkinson Trio w/ Cam Wilson

St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Tickets $30 ($26 members)

Quebec’s remarkable Christine Tassan et les Imposteures headline the next two nights with their infectious blend of Parisian gypsy jazz standards and Quebecois joie de vivre! Pioneers in a men’s musical world and precursors of the manouche wave swelling all over Québec, Christine Tassan et Les Imposteures offer an exquisite tour of a unique universe. Rarely do we see an entirely feminine jazz group and it is especially unique in Gypsy jazz. These four cheeky troubadours push a little further the inventiveness of their gypsy jazz: original songs with a wealth of vocal harmonies, covers that will flabbergast you and of course, instrumentals giving way to fabulously wild improvs with the violin and the guitar. In the spirit of the gypsies, they will have you embark on an unconventional journey, starting with crazy Montréal nights, going through the Limoilou neighbourhood of Québec, with destination Paris and Eastern Europe. These musicians have great energy, and their pleasure in performing is contagious. 

“The result is simply breathtaking, love at first sight!” - Le Soleil de Québec

“It is a real treat to listen to the interactive enthusiasm of these Impostors, who don’t hesitate to inspire laughter at every turn of each song…” - Django Station (France)


Tickets and info for Saturday's show can be found here

One of Canada’s most accomplished and innovative guitarists, Hornby Island’s Marc Atkinson’s compositions are punchy, driving and rhythmically inventive. The tunes have a fiery but elegant style, infused with a catchy blend of influences. All the while maintaining the laid-back humour and casual “good time feel” of Canada’s West Coast. His music is original, complex and challenging in its conception and delivery but remains accessible and absorbing. With Brett Marten on rhythm and Joey Smith on bass, the music of this fine trio welcomes all listeners aboard for an intriguing, exhilarating and unforgettable ride. Special guest Cam Wilson of Van Django on fiddle will join the band as they push back the boundaries ever further and really strut their stuff.


Sunday April 26th 7pm

Van Django
Les Imposteures
Company B Jazz Band

St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Tickets $30 ($26 members)
Van Django is an acoustic string ensemble made up of four of Canada’s most talented and eclectic musicians: Cam Wilson (VSO, Mad Pudding, Joe Trio) on violin, Budge Schachte on lead guitar, Finn Manniche on cello and rhythm guitar, and Brent Gubbels on acoustic bass. Van Django’s music is punchy, driving and rhythmically inventive, combining a wealth of musical influences while maintaining their roots in the gypsy jazz made famous by the 1930’s Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Experience this foursome in an action packed musical universe they call, “acoustic string hot jazz!”. They have released two Cds to date – Tiptoe Trip, and Waltz In The Shape Of A Tree. Van Django’s trademarks are fabulous playing, imaginative and creative arrangements, unlikely medleys, and above all, fun!

Tickets and info for Sunday's finale can be found here

Christine Tassan et les Imposteures will treat us to a completely different set of tunes and songs on the Sunday night

Company B Jazz Band is a lively Vancouver based vintage jazz and swing band featuring a female vocal trio. The group got together in 2007 having been inspired by the Andrews Sisters and The Boswell Sisters, and have been entertaining folks enthusiastically ever since. Marked by a blend of excellent musicianship, an evident love for the music they perform, tightness, spontaneity, a sharp image, and just the right amount of humour. Company B Jazz Band has released 3 albums to date. They were a huge hit at last year’s festival, and we are delighted to welcome them back.

Thursday April 30th & Friday May 1st
Blueshore Stage at Capilano University
Buffy Sainte-Marie - both shows now Sold Out!
Friday May 1st 8pm
Cassie & Maggie

St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Tickets $20 ($16 members)

Sisters, cohorts and collaborators, Nova Scotia's Cassie and Maggie MacDonald have been enchanting audiences far and wide with their infectious energy, driving rhythms and lilting melodies. While staying true to their Celtic roots they bring a breath of fresh air to the genre with their original compositions and arrangements.


Sunday May 3rd 8pm

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Tickets $28 ($24 members)

"Hayes and Cahill have distinguished themselves by bringing chamber music’s intensity and dynamic control to folk tunes.” - Seattle Times 

Martin Hayes is Ireland's most celebrated fiddler these days, and his telepathic link with guitarist Dennis Cahill makes their concerts not just amazing nights of Celtic music, but also an almost transcendental experience! Regular visitors to the Rogue over the past two decades they have also been touring recently as part of the Irish "supergroup" The Gloaming. Not to be missed!!


Radio Waves 
On this week's edition of The Edge On Folk on CiTR fm 101.9 and (Saturday 8am to noon) I'll have some new releases by the likes of Mavis Staples, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni baCalexicoTom Russell, Danu, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy, Alex Cuba, April Verch, Lee Harvey Osmond, etc. I'll also have a feature on gypsy jazz to mark the 9th annual April In Paris festival. Plus lots of great Celtic fiddle music from Cassie & Maggie and Hayes & Cahill, and some fine Cajun music and bluegrass. And some classic blues, folk and a preview of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Island Musicfest, and more! Hope you can join me! 

Radio Rogue continues to broadcast 24/7 with a playlist of upcoming Rogue performers plus some new releases I'll add in later today. You can tune in here