The acclaimed Hot Club of San Francisco and the popular French vocalist Isabelle Fontaine have created “Meet Me in Paris,” a charming concert invoking an unforgettable Parisian experience.
Love songs and driving gypsy jazz are a combination made famous during the ‘20s and ‘30s in Paris by the legendary Hot Club de France, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Following the First World War, the city became a gathering place for artists from around the world and The Hot Club’s unique sound of gypsy jazz reflects this inter-wartime collection of cultures. Keep time with the strum of the rhythm guitars and let the magical guitar and fiddle solos take you on a ride down the Seine and through the heart of the city. Ms. Fontaine’s mix of sweet and sultry songs adds a touch of beauty and authenticity that echoes the historic Ville-Lumière, “the city of light.”
The Hot Club of San Francisco is a group accomplished and versatile musicians celebrating the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s pioneering Hot Club de France with style and panache. The HCSF borrows the instrumentation of violin, bass and guitars from the original Hot Club while breathing new life into the music with innovative arrangements of classic tunes and original compositions by the group’s superb lead guitarist Paul Mehling. Featuring the amazing violin of twice Grammy Award winner Evan Price and a swinging rhythm section, along with French singer Isabelle Fontaine.
To hear the ensemble live, or on any of their 11 albums, is to be carried back to the 1930s and the small, smoky jazz clubs of Paris and the refined lounges of the famous Hotel Ritz. Often called gypsy jazz, the music of The Hot Club of San Francisco has entranced audiences around the globe for over 20 years. Acoustic Guitar hailed the group’s playing as “intricate, scorching and often brilliant.”
Le Jazz Hot Quartet (aka the quartet of the Hot Club SF) plays in the style & spirit of Django Reinhardt - they never fail to Dazzle & Delight!
Every MondayLe Jazz Hot TRIO plays for dancing at Mr Tipples in SF
7-10pm, kid friendly, no cover, swing dancing!
The Venerable Gypsy Swing Combo Interprets the Beatles on the Gorgeous New Album John, Paul, George and Django
It was only a matter of time before guitarist Paul Mehling focused his creative mojo on Lennon and McCartney’s vast and enduring treasure trove of songs. The founder and guiding spirit of the Hot Club of San Francisco, America’s longest running Gypsy swing ensemble, Mehling was first inspired to pick up a guitar when the Beatles launched the British Invasion via Ed Sullivan’s CBS variety show on Feb. 9, 1964. Now Mehling’s HCSF is recolonizing the Fab Four’s songbook in the name of Gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt with John, Paul, George and Django, a ravishing and consistently revelatory reimagining of classic Beatles tunes. Slated for release on Mehling’s Hot Club label in September, 2016, the band’s 14th album is designed both to seduce Beatlephiles and enchant Djangologists, with arrangements that serve the songs rather than turning them into vehicles for blazing solos.
“We’ve been road testing arrangements and tune selections for several years and it’s just gold,” Mehling says. “These tunes were really well crafted, and our job is to present the songs through our prism. Our vision can be summed up as WWDD?: What Would Django Do? What if he hadn’t died, and had lived long enough to interpret Beatles songs? Because you know he totally would have.”
In many ways, Mehling planted the seeds for the project some two decades ago. On 1994’s Quintet of the Hot Club of San Francisco the band interpreted “And I Love Her,” and a few years later on 1997’s Swing This, Mehling found an ideal conduit for Gypsy soul in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He wants to make clear that the album’s title isn’t intended to diminish Ringo Starr’s essential contributions, noting that like Ella Fitzgerald interpreting Cole Porter, the album is about “John, Paul, and George as composers.” Their songs have rarely sounded so enthralling.
With its psychedelic production and hypnotic 5/4 groove, “Fool On the Hill” feels like Django traded Parisian nightlife for an acid test, a trip he thoroughly enjoyed. With French-born Hot Club rhythm guitarist Isabelle Fontaine’s simmering delivery of her translated lyrics “If I Needed Someone” turns into a Gallic torch song (and check out Mehling’s brilliant interpolation of “Within You Without You” in his solo). “Don’t Bother Me” bounces with a swinging reggae feel, and “You Can’t Do That” gets to Paris via New Orleans with a washboard powered beat. “You Don’t See Me” gets a straight ahead Gypsy swing treatment, and the woozy ballad “Because” turns into a brisk Gypsy jazz sprint.
“We try to keep the kaleidoscope spinning so you don’t know what’s coming next,” Mehling says. “With so many Gypsy jazz records, it’s like okay, we get it! You’re a genius. You can play really fast. We’re looking to create an album that can be played repeatedly.”
One reason why the album works so well is that the HCSF is a busy ensemble with thousands of gigs under their belts together. A member of the HCSF since 1998, violinist Evan Price is a highly versatile player who earned top honors as a U.S. Scottish Fiddling Champion before performing with a hot-fiddle who’s who including Stephane Grappelli, Johnny Frigo, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Johnny Gimble, and Vassar Clements. He spent 10 years in the creative crucible of the seminal Turtle Island String Quartet, touring internationally, collaborating with jazz luminaries like Cuban clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, and pianists Dr. Billy Taylor and Kenny Barron and earning two Grammy Awards for the albums Four + 4 and A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane (both on Telarc).
Based in the Bay Area since 2004, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Isabelle Fontaine was born and raised in the French countryside, where she absorbed the voices of Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, and Yves Montand. A natural talent, she spent two decades touring southwest Europe playing drums in a jump blues combo, which led to her love of 1930s swing and the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Quintette du Hot Club de France. It wasn’t long before she picked up the guitar and applied her impeccable sense of rhythm to the instrument.
Fresno-native Sam Rocha has worked professionally as a bassist since high school. While largely self-taught, he’s deeply versed in the instrument’s lineage, from “Pops” Foster, Milt Hinton, and Bob Haggart to Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, and Scott LaFaro. In addition to his mastery of the bass, Rocha has absorbed the nuances of classic jazz tuba, cornet, and guitar, performing regularly on those instruments as well. And guitarist
Jordan Samuels, the most recent addition to the HCSF, is also one the busiest young players on the Bay Area scene. Since finishing his degree in composition and jazz studies at San Francisco State in 2010, he’s performed regularly with HCSF, Erik Jekabson’s Electric Squeezbox Orchestra, and his own trio Certified Organic, while performing with Bay Area masters such as Paula West, Wil Blades, Smith Dobson, Adam Theis, and Matt Clark.
Mehling traces his musical journey back to an epiphany at six years old, when he saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan “and it was like getting hit by lightening,” he recalls. “I wanna do that - make the girls scream and give people the buzz I get from hearing the music.” In his teenage years he played in rock bands, but gravitated more toward acoustic guitar and started studying classical music “but that wasn’t what I wanted either,” he says. “Then I heard Django’s Hot Club of France: three guitars, bass, and violin and they sounded and acted like a rock band. I saw pictures of them and they looked sharp, sophisticated and mysterious.”
He spent his early years as a professional musician playing traditional New Orleans jazz on banjo and guitar, but didn’t think of trying to master Django’s music until traveling in Europe in the early 1980s and hearing guitarist Fapy Lafertin with the Belgian Gypsy jazz combo WASO. Combined with the inspiration from two visionary Bay Area ensembles known for drawing deeply from the Hot Club sound—Dan Hicks & his Hot Licks and the David Grisman “dawg music” Quintet—he honed his Django repertoire, and ended up landing a gig as lead guitarist with Dan Hicks’ Acoustic Warriors from 1985-1990, a highlight of which was their 1989 appearance on Austin City Limits.
Mehling launched the Hot Club of San Francisco in 1991, spearheading the American Gypsy jazz movement with countless concerts and a series of critically hailed albums, including 1999’s Lady in Red (Clarity) featuring Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, and jazz/blues vocal legend Barbara Dane. In 2000, the HCSF became the first American band invited to play the Festival de Jazz Django Reinhardt in Samois-Sur-Seine, ground zero for the ongoing Django revival. Over the years the band has featured a glittering array of talent, including guitarists Adam Levy, Josh Workman, Sam Miltich, fiddlers Jenny Scheinman and Olivier Manchon, and bassists Joe Kyle and Clint Baker.
Though the present lineup has been in place for more than five years, creating John, Paul, George and Django put the band’s copacetic chemistry to the test. “It was very contentious, especially the arranging,” Mehling admits. “Everybody’s got really strong feelings about the Beatles. But I’ve had the band almost 30 years and Evan’s been in it almost 18. We’re all still friends and we worked it out! It took a long time to settle in on the program and then polish the arrangements. We’ve already got a list for volume 2!”
Every Monday from 7-10pm, Mr Tipples presents le Jazz Hot Trio for dancing, dining and listening (go figure!)
Back for their third appearance with Jazz in the Neighborhood is Le Jazz Hot, the quartet version of the Hot Club of San Francisco. Led by guitarist Paul “Pazzo” Mehling, the ensemble includes vocalist and rhythm guitarist Isabelle Fontaine, jazz violinist Evan Price, and star Sam Rocha on bass.
Paul Mehling has been dubbed the godfather of American gypsy jazz. He discovered the music of Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in grammar school, and decades later the music that took root in his young soul finally bore fruit.
Critics have noted that the music of Mehling and the Hot Club of San Francisco owes as much to 52nd street as gypsy jazz, a characterization Mehling doesn’t dispute. “We have a swing or die approach to the music that’s distinctly American. We’re trying to challenge the tendency to slavishly imitate Django’s style, without watering down the gypsy tradition or diluting the music. We bring out the visceral element of the music that Serge told me is so important. When I talk with gypsy musicians, they say that they love what we do because they can tell we love the music. If people dig our music, when gypsy bands come to America, there will be an audience waiting to hear them.”
Isabelle Fontaine was born and raised in the French countryside with the voices of Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, and Yves Montand ringing in her ears. She originally had no intention of becoming a professional musician but when she started singing with a group of friends for fun, her talent was immediately recognized and her life took an unexpected turn. She spent the next twenty years singing and playing the snare drum to the jumping jive music of the 50’s throughout France, with detours to Spain and over the Alps to Switzerland. During this period, she was eventually drawn to the gypsy swing of Django Reinhardt and The Hot Club of France, and it wasn’t long before she picked up the guitar and applied her impeccable sense of rhythm to the stringed instrument.
Evan Price is a ten-year veteran of the world-renowned, paradigm-shifting, jazz ensemble the Turtle Island Quartet. During his tenure in Turtle Island, he gave over five hundred performances in concert venues from Latvia to Australia and had the opportunity to collaborate with many musical luminaries, such as Cuban clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and pianists Dr. Billy Taylor and Kenny Barron.
In addition to his in-depth study of classic bass playing, Sam Rocha has absorbed the nuances of classic jazz tuba, cornet, and guitar playing, and he regularly performs on those instruments as well. Quickly becoming one of the rising stars of the traditional jazz and gypsy swing circuit, Rocha is known for his innate musicality and rhythm and for his inventive, melodic solos.
801 Magnolia Avenue, Piedmont
$20 advance / $25 day of show / $5 student rush
Ivory Club Boys
Hosted by Karen and Michael
- 8pm Main Room: Beg-Int Swing/Lindy Lessons with Karen and Michael
- 8pm Back Studio: Lesson TBA
- 9-12pm Live Show and Dance Party with Ivory Club Boys
- DJ Michael Arntz
Doors Open at 7:30 pm. $15
1317 San Pablo Blvd., Berkeley, CA (corner of Gilman). Parking at REI after 9pm.
- Admission $15 includes lessons and party. Click Here to Buy Tickets
Ivory Club Boys: An electrified homage to Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys, comprised of members of the Hot Club of San Francisco and friends. Website: http://www.hotclubsf.com/#ivory-club-boys
Fire up your holidays with Hot Club Cool Yule, a swinging gypsy wagon trip to the North Pole featuring many of your favorites and some rarer seasonal gems. Performed by The Hot Club of San Francisco in their inimitable style, reminiscent of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France, this dazzling holiday offering has something for everyone. Make your holiday season bright with the flames of gypsy jazz!
The great gypsy jazz ensemble presents "Cinema Vivant," an evening of vintage silent films accompanied by live gypsy swing music.
"Cinema Vivant" is a celebration of the imagination and innovation of pioneering filmmakers Ladislaw Starewicz and Charley Bowers. Before World War I, European filmmaker Ladislaw Starewicz pioneered stop-action animation, creating a never-before-seen movie experience. Two Starewicz films are featured in "Cinema Vivant": The Cameraman's Revenge, a charming film about the marital troubles of beetles; and The Mascot, an adventure story about lost toys. American filmmaker Charley Bowers revolutionized the industry in the 1920s by combining animation with live action. There It Is, a recently discovered comedy by Bowers about a mysterious occurrence investigated by Scotland yard, is also featured in Cinema Vivant.
The Hot Club of San Francisco is an ensemble of accomplished and versatile musicians celebrating the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s pioneering Hot Club de France. Comprised of lead guitarist Paul Mehling, violinist Evan Price, bass player Sam Rocha and rhythm guitarists Isabelle Fontaine and Jordan Samuels, the HCSF borrows the instrumentation from the original Hot Club while modernizing this historic music with innovative arrangements of classic tunes and original compositions. The ensemble’s live shows and 13 albums transport audiences back to the 1930s and the small, smoky jazz clubs of Paris and the refined lounges of the famous Hotel Ritz. The HCSF has frequently toured nationally and internationally with appearances at prestigious venues from Lincoln Center to the Monterey Jazz Festival. Often called gypsy jazz, the music of The Hot Club of San Francisco has entertained audiences around the globe for over 20 years.