11 November 2016

Occidental Gypsy

On Friday, November 11 Occidental Gypsy returns to the me&thee after their debut last year drew such a great response from the audience. Their unique brand of nouveau hot jazz raises the roof and sends the crowd to its stomping feet. This crowd-pleasing quintet, with its jaunty vocals, swinging, evocative guitar and virtuoso violin recalling the legendary partnership of Grapelli and Reinhardt, knocked everyone’s socks off at Djangofest Mill Valley ’15 and earned big kudos from jazz-folk-bluegrass master David Bromberg, who raved “great singing, fantastic guitar and violin work, and high energy originals that leave the crowd crazy.” Occidental Gypsy will play two sets with no opening act, so buckle your rumble seat belts for a rollicking evening of hot retro gypsy swing. The band encourages dancing so bring your dancing shoes.

Concert starts at 8:00 pm.

Occidental Gypsy

Since their 2011 debut album Over Here, which made this fab five the critics’s darling, the band has been touring steadily to sold-out venues and knocking them dead at music festivals here and overseas. Occidental Gypsy is more than just another hot swing band playing ‘gypsified’ covers. This group is a fusion of world, folk, jazz and dance music with reverent roots in the swing era of the 1930s when Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli were burning down the house in the legendary Hot Club of France. Occidental Gypsy was honored to be named as “capable Django ‘heirs’ ” recently.

This group has shared the stages with such musical royalty as Ricki Lee Jones, Jorma Kaukenen, Stanley Jordan, and Joe Sample. While each and every member of this band can swing hard, the group’s ‘secret weapon’ is violinist Eli Bishop, a Nashville prodigy who also studied right here at Berklee College of Music. Bishop’s passionate and lightning-fast playing recently won him first place in the Mississippi Fiddle Championships. The lead guitarist and composer, Brett Feldman, plays a masterful guitar; Jeremy Franz is a protégé of legendary jazz guitarist, Joe Negri; Erick Cifuentes, who hails from Guatemala, plays percussion and bassist Jeff Feldman fills out the band’s rich sound.

In addition to originals, the band is noted for its reworkings of jazz chestnuts like Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and the prayerful “Georgia on My Mind,” rendered by vocalist-guitarist Jeremy Frantz, who is known for bringing large crowds to near silence with his warm, heartfelt singing. If that isn’t enough, Occidental Gypsy likes to throw their unconventional covers including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and tunes by Stevie Wonder and the Beatles — served up with a gypsy jazz twist.

Photo by Cliff Garber

  • Occidental Gypsy is a crowd pleaser. Jaunty vocals, lots of swing, and evocative violin and guitar interplay make this an act to catch and enjoy. They were a big hit at Djangofest Mill Valley ’15. Nicholas Lehr, Executive Promoter of Djangofest Northwest Whidbey Island and Mill Valley, CA
  • As it journeys from venue to venue throughout the United States, Occidental Gypsy, a red-hot, Django Reinhardt-inspired, gypsy swing and fusion band, loves to encourage rapt listeners to get up on their feet and dance to its classically retro yet forever young sounds. Hartford Courant
  • . . . the musicians of Occidental Gypsy emerged as classicists, above all celebrating the optimistic spirit that made Reinhardt-Grappelli an antidote to the tough times of pre-World War II Europe (and beyond) . . . the music-making — proved carefully considered and nimbly delivered. Chicago Tribune Jazz Critic Howard Reich