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Hot Club of San Fran Jazzes Gypsy Music

The boisterous and talented Hot Club of San Francisco presented examples of brilliant guitarist Django Reinhardt's style of gypsy jazz in two convocations on November 17.

The Hot Club of San Francisco.

In the afternoon, the members of the Hot Club sat down to inform students about the origin of gypsy jazz (or gypsy swing) and play some of the music. They also spoke of their inspiration, Reinhardt, who created the fusion of jazz and gypsy music in the 1920s after hearing American jazz records. For the evening convocation the Hot Club returned for a two-hour concert of music that ranged from energetic dance and swing to melancholy waltzes. Even during the slower numbers, the music held enough rhythm to keep the audience tapping their feet.

Django Reinhardt could not read or write, but was a "little kid prodigy" when it came to music. Anything he heard played, he could play back perfectly. It "scared the pants off" most of the people who tried to teach him. Reinhardt took elements of his gypsy heritage and the music of his childhood, with its unique sound and emphasis on stringed instruments, and created a new style of jazz. The music caught on and Reinhardt became famous throughout Europe. He died in 1953 but his dazzling music still inspires many musicians to this day.

"Gypsies - they play everything slightly different and slightly cooler," said Paul Mehling, the founder of the Hot Club of San Francisco. He plays solo guitar for the band. The other band members are Olivier Manchon on violin, Ari Munkres on bass, and Jeff Magidson and Jason Vanderford on rhythm guitar.

The Hot Club of San Francisco takes its name from Reinhardt's band, the Hot Club of France. They play all-string instrumentation from Reinhardt and the original Hot Club as well as arrangements of classic tunes and some original compositions by Mehling. More information about the group and about Django Reinhardt can be found at the following links.

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