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Texas Gypsies

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Texas based band crosses the lines of Gypsy Jazz and Western Swing with a smooth easy flowing rhythm.

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  • With the release of Cafe Du Swing, the Texas Gypsies have accomplished what few bands have even tried, let alone succeeded in doing in the past. The group blends elements of traditional small group Swing, Gypsy Jazz and Western Swing into a tightly woven fabric of 21st Century sophistication and jumpin', thumpin' entertainment.

    Just four musicians form the nucleus of this high spirited and ultra swinging small band. Steve Curry - guitar, vocals; John Hewitt - bass, vocals; Erik Swanson - guitar, lead vocals, vocals; Mark Menikos - violin.

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    . Jazz Radio Audio
    The audio archives page is where you can catch Jazz Joint Jump, our weekly swing and mainstream jazz radio show, live every week. Jazz Joint Jump showcases musician birthday salutes and recordings done this week in history and is broadcast on-line and at 90.7 KFSR-FM. The tap water is still free of charge.
    biographies
    Collectively the band sounds tight and together, yet improvisational and flowing, leaving one to wonder how long these guys have been playing together to pull off such a feat of Grapellian and Reinhardtish proportions.

    But don't think for one minute that this is just a 21st Century attempt to ape the French and Belgium grand masters of Gypsy Jazz. These cats obviously know when to bob (as in Wills) and when to weave (like the Weavers minus the chick).

    All but two cuts on the release Cafe Du Swing are originals. Maxwell Swing and Flapperjack, both original instrumentals, are worth buying the CD for alone. The former features primarily Curry's lead with some tasteful musings from Mark Menikos on violin. The song has a almost a Squirrel Nut Zippers meets the Hot Club Of France feel to it. The latter, Flapperjack, is an uptempo flag waver again spotlighting Curry and Menikos with some brief call and response between the two at the beginning and both latter getting ample time to show off their prowess as soloists. Erik Swanson shines on rhythm and John Hewitt's bass drives all.

    Also, important to mention, is Menikos' and Curry's beautiful reading of a Django Renhardt ballad called Manoir De Mes Reves. Total sophistication in the 21st Century by some well traveled Texans and an unexpected and pleasant if not downright euphoric surprise. My only complaint on this one is they should have kept going and stretched it out to five or six minutes!

    Bottom line is most of the CDs I get in the mail by upstart bands trying to "swing" go in the trash, get used for drink coasters or get hung from the eaves to scare the woodpeckers away (not really but I hear it works). Not this one. Check out this band at htttp://www.texasgypsies.com.

    George Gee
    Big Band leader from New York whose band swings in the great tradition of Count Basie. George loves every minute of it. This guy skipped out of a college exam to go hear and meet the "Count."

    Bill Elliott
    Bill Elliott is a talented songwriter, pianist, and arranger. The Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra is an incredibly tight unit that features extremely good players.

    Dean Mora             
    Dean Mora's group from Southern California focuses mainly on pre swing era music that is very well played. Don't get caught in the "contempt prior to investigation" web. This band plays some great Jazz.

    Eddie Reed
    Eddie Reed is a clarinetist, vocalist, and leader of a great modern big band and Jazz octet based in Long Beach. He is a dedicated Jazz musician who swings in the purist sense of the word.

    Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
    Upon listening to the LCJO one can only imagine what hearing Duke Ellington's 1941 band in person must have been like. What an outfit!

    David Berger & The Sultans Of Swing
    Speaking of Ellington, David Berger knows as much about the Duke and his music than anyone alive today. It shows as his arrangements are first class, his players simply excellent.

    Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers
    The Skillet Lickers are the absolute perfect Jazz accompaniment for the bluesy and sultry vocals of Miss Smith. No surprise that their 2000 release was in the top 10 of the Billboard Jazz charts in 2001.

    Steve Lucky And The Rhumba Bums
    Steve Lucky smokes on the 88's.  Carmen Gettit is a phenomenal vocalist but she doesn't stop there; she plays guitar like a cross between Freddie Greene and Robert Johnson. The two are usually augmented live by two saxes and bass. Scott (E Dog) Peterson is a well-traveled sax man. A solid hoot!

    Stompy Jones
    Formerly The Swing Session; t
    his is as stellar of a group of integritous cats in the music business as you'll ever meet. They are just as great of an outfit musically. What a rhythm section with Lee Beary on skins, Little David bass, and Scott Lawrence piano. Christopher Binnings is the new vocalist for the ban, Robert Dehlinger trumpet, Erv Ervin reeds. Really a great group! Their debut release called The Swing Session is a delight as is their second called Whispering Grass. Prior to the retirement of  vocalist Peter Pops Walsh the band released a self titled CD (as you might guess it was called Stompy Jones) which was my favorite offering. Their latest That's Alright is just that.

    Jonathon Stout And The Campus Five
    This band arrived on the scene in 2003. Comprised of some talented young LA musicians like Jonathon Stout on guitar and Hillary Alexander (known to many in Lindy Hop circles as a dancer before this release;) the debut disc by the Campus Five is a great one. Read our full review here.

    James And John Morrison
    Aussie Swing from "down under?" You bet! These talented Jazz musicians turned me on my ear! James Morrison has got to be the most multi talented musician of all time; piano, reeds, brass, drums and all incredibly well! His brother John is a boot in the butt on drums. Check out the Swingin Upstairs release!

    Red Young
    Here's a guy that doesn't follow the flock. Red Young could be doing a lot of other things and make money at it. Instead he has his own recording studio and when he's not working with his big band he's playing Hammond B-3 with his small group. Red worked as arranger with Linda Ronstadt during the period when she released Lush Life with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra backing her. He has also written for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and done a great vocal and piano duet with Steve Lucky in recent times. Play some Jimmy McGriff for me on that Hammond B my man!

    Michael Andrew & Swingerhead
    Michael Andrew is a tremendous vocalist and top-notch performer. Harry may have met Sally but Michael was swingin' and singin' his rear off and enjoying it better! Michael and his band, Swingerhead recently won the Orlando Music Award for Best Band in the category of Jazz & Swing for the 4th year in a Row. From '93 - '95 Michael performed 5 to 6 nights a week at the world famous Rainbow Room in New York City. In the summer of '96 audiences and critics raved about his "hi-fi, sci-fi" musical comedy, Mickey Swingerhead & the Earthgirls, which was produced in Orlando. Michael Andrew and Swingerhead performed at the Bob Carr with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to a sold out crowd and received several standing ovations. In 2000, Andrew formed his west coast band "the Coconut Club Orchestra. They performed every Saturday night at the Coconut Club in Merv Griffin's Beverly Hilton. His Orlando based band, Swingerhead continues to perform throughout Central Florida and the nation. Michael also makes frequent guest appearances with symphonic orchestras across the country. His 2003 Tribute To Sinatra CD contains great surprises!

    Kyle Bronsdon
    On 6-2-2003 d
    rummer Kyle Bronsdon's Kitchen Swing release hit the stores. It can be found on his own Vitalegacy label. Kitchen Swing features Bronsdon's old bandmates Brenden Kearney and Steve Grams (the "KGB Trio", Kings Of Pleasure) as well as seasoned swingers like Harvey Newmark (Anita O'Day, Harry "Sweets" Edison) and newer talent including Carl Sonny Leyland (Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys). Mike Cogan (Lavay Smith, Indigo Swing) mastered the album. The album covers a lot of ground stylistically, from ragtime to jump blues to avante garde jazz.

    The Yallopin Hounds
    What kind of band would you think this is with the two main players named G-Clef and Sledge? Both of these cats can play great Jazz. The Yallopin Hounds is one of those bands that is trying to take swinging Jazz music into other areas thereby exposing a whole different range of listeners. At times you might even hear a hip-hop lyric. One has to respect these cats for what they do. On their latest release the song Hey Jacquet (in regards
    to tenor man Illinois Jacquet) was not just a whimsical story of a couple of musicians quitting a band; it
    actually happened, and with them and Illinois Jacquet.


    The Mike McKeon Lets Dance Big Band
    The Swinginest band in Melbourne may be on the under side of the US, but they're at the top of the list when it comes to vintage style Australian Big Bands. You'll find MP3's of their music on the website. They use many authentic charts of the music of Ellington, Basie, James, Shaw and Miller. This 14-piece band was originally formed in 1981!

    The Tom Smith Big Band
    The Tom Smith Big Band is a, New York based, 20 piece orchestra featuring Classic Swing Music and authentic arrangements of Glenn Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Count Basie...and Tom Smith Sings Sinatra. "Tom Smith...the Sinatra singer...sounds eerily like the original."
    (Bryan Miller/NY Times...6/19/94) 
    SKEPTICS BEWARE:
    Artie Shaw was at one time scorned by both critics and jazz fans alike. Read the scoop below.
    .                                                CORN SERVED ON ARTIE'S PLATTERS
          In a September of 1939 issue of Downbeat magazine writer Eunice Kay reported that "a new organization has been created to go about bashing Artie Shaw." "The S.P.A.S (Society for the Prevention of Artie Shaw) first hit the press in the Cleveland Press by serving up corn on Shaw platters, tossing other Shaw discs into Lake Erie, and still others being smashed to bits by indignant members of the S.P.A.S." "The organization started as a joke and allegedly grew into a large aggregation of Swing enthusiasts, both musicians and record collectors." The article claimed that "members had no personal grudge against Shaw; they simply disliked his style and tone." "Too, they felt he was grossly overrated." S.P.A.S. groups were also said to have also been started in "New York, Maryland, and other eastern states." 

         Little wonder Artie kept turning his back on the music business and claimed that jitterbugs would dance to the beat of a windshield wiper! While Begin The Beguine and One Foot In The Groove had already been waxed before this reported sect had been formed, some of his biggest hits and best bands were still to come; Gramercy 5 recordings like Summit Ridge Drive in '40 and hits like Frenesi, Moonglow and Stardust. Today many big band fans would like to start a new S.P.A.S. renamed Society for the
    Preservation of Artie Shaw!  


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