Historic Fifth Street School hosting gypsy jazz concert

If the only Django you know is “Django Unchained’s” title character, introductions obviously are in order.

And they’re as close as Saturday’s “DjangoVegas!” gypsy jazz concert at downtown’s Historic Fifth Street School.

Now in its fifth year, “DjangoVegas!” spotlights the beguiling, infectious style of jazz pioneered by the original guitar star, Django Reinhardt, whose collaboration with violinist Stephane Grappelli in 1930s Paris spawned a musical genre that’s still flourishing more than six decades after his death.

Thanks to the internet, gypsy jazz is more international than ever — as reflected by the “DjangoVegas!” lineup.

Along with its namesake guitarist (born in Long Island), the Frank Vignola Trio features Swedish guitarist Andreas Oberg — “he’s like a Swedish tennis star,” Vignola says — and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, who’s “played with everyone,” including guitar legend Les Paul.

Vignola’s also “played with everyone” — from Ringo Starr to Madonna to the Boston Pops to Paul, with whom he appeared in Las Vegas more than a decade ago.

Also on the “DjangoVegas!” bill: the Rhythm Future Quartet (named after a Django Reinhardt tune), led by Boston-based violinist Jason Anick and guitarist Olli Soikkeli, aka “the Finnish boy wonder,” who’s now based in New York.

Hot House West — who’ll provide the 5 p.m. pre-concert entertainment at “DjangoVegas!” — may be based in Salt Lake City, but the group’s new guitarist hails from Alaska.


And, in its fifth consecutive “DjangoVegas!” appearance, the Hot Club of Las Vegas (named for Reinhardt’s original group, the Hot Club of France) spotlights local showroom performers originally from Hawaii, Cuba and points in between.

That geographical range reflects the trans-Atlantic origins of gypsy jazz, which began with Reinhardt and Grappelli fusing acoustic guitar and violin, respectively, “with the music coming out of New Orleans, Louis Armstrong and early swing,” explains RFQ’s Anick, who also teaches at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

Gypsy jazz has elements of flamenco and other European musical forms, but “it’s familiar to us Americans — it was (Europeans’) reaction to American swing,” notes Hot Club of Las Vegas founder Mundo Juillerat, who’s such a Django Reinhardt fan that he named his dog after his guitar hero.

Juillerat had never heard of Django until he was hanging out with another guitar hero: British rocker Jeff Beck, who had a pile of more than two dozen CDs in his hotel room.

A few were by blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, “but the most were Django CDs,” Juillerat recalls, noting how Beck told him, “ ‘Oh, Django’s my fave.’ I made a note to myself: Check out Django Reinhardt.”

After listening to Reinhardt’s recordings, playing his tunes — and some Django-inspired festivals — Juillerat started Hot Club of Vegas.

He and Brian Kendall, cultural supervisor at the Historic Fifth Street School, came up with the idea for “DjangoVegas!” after Kendall heard the Hot Club of Las Vegas during a First Friday performance.

But gypsy jazz had been on Kendall’s radar even before the 2012 debut of “DjangoVegas!”

At various arts conferences, “I kept hearing ‘gypsy jazz’ — the phrase and the music,” Kendall says. And when he heard Argentinian guitarist Gonzalo Bergara at an Oregon conference, Kendall’s reaction was a resounding “Whoa — this is some cool stuff, and different” than traditional jazz.

This year’s “DjangoVegas!” features “the top guys in the world,” according to Vignola. “These are the LeBron Jameses of gypsy jazz players.”

Vignola cites a 2000 Django Reinhardt festival at New York’s Birdland jazz club with helping to inspire the Django boom.

“For a guitar geek like me, it was heaven,” says Vignola, who credits the festival’s executive producers with the term “gypsy jazz.”

A Salt Lake City performance by Vignola, meanwhile, inspired the members of Hot House West — then University of Utah students — to form their own gypsy jazz group.

“There’s something about gypsy jazz,” says Hot House West’s Kevin Schultz. “It’s different than a lot of jazz styles. People tell me, ‘I’m not a musician, but I like it.’ ”

Anick, who attended a Django Reinhardt-inspired music camp in Massachusetts — he now teaches there — cites “a virtuosic quality” to gypsy jazz that “brings all the worlds together. It’s a very expressive music. It’s a great medium to explore everything music has to offer.”

That includes new songs — and new instrumentation.

Hot House West, for example, adds horns to the traditional strings-heavy lineup of guitar, violin and bass.

And Hot Club of Las Vegas — which recently recorded an upcoming CD — features not only vocals (some in Spanish) but percussion as well.

“We’ve noticed, since we started, other gypsy jazz groups have added percussionists” too, Juillerat points out.

At a recent Hot Club rehearsal at Juillerat’s home, however, the only percussion is provided by vocalist Noybel Gorgoy, who came to Las Vegas to perform in the long-gone Stardust’s “Havana Nightclub” — and never left.

Gorgoy taps out a rhythm on the dining room table as she sings, while Juillerat, rhythm guitarist Johnny Miles and bassist Tony Smith play and bob their heads to the jaunty beat, smiling as they jangle their strings and share their harmonies.

That relaxed atmosphere prevails even in concert, where “at the core, the style of music is centered around the community,” according to Anick. “It comes naturally with the gypsy tradition.”

And it comes naturally at “DjangoVegas!” — especially during the finale, when “all of the artists (will) come back together for a 10- to 15-minute impromptu jam session,” Kendall says. “So don’t leave early.”

Read more from Carol Cling at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at ccling@reviewjournal.com and follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Home Front Page Footer Listing