The Hot Club of San Francisco is proud to present their 14th CD release “John, Paul, George & Django” – a gypsy jazz tribute to the fab four!
Featuring some of the finest compositions and beloved melodies with a swinging twist from America’s venerable and irresistible acoustic string quintet — this record has something for EVERYONE.
An evening of joy, excitement, romance, bravado, and more awaits you when you come to the Cinabar Theater and re-discover the Beatles’ hits with new ears & eyes.
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).