Django à la Créole

Evan Christopher © Jim McGuire Django à la Créole © Lia Wright Django à la Créole © Yann Charles Evan Christopher © Jim McGuire
16/01/2013 - Aalst - De Werf
17/01/2013 - Brussels - Les Riches-Claires
18/01/2013 - Ghent - De Centrale
19/01/2013 - Leopoldsburg - Cultureel Centrum
20/01/2013 - Antwerp - Rataplan
21/01/2013 - Ruiselede - Banana Peel

Django à la Créole
Evan Christopher (clarinets – USA), David Blenkhorn (electric guitar – Australia), Dave Kelbie (acoustic guitar – UK) and Sebastien Girardot (double bass – Australia)
In late-August, 2005, powerful hurricane Katrina compromised an inadequate U.S. Federal levee system flooding 80% of the city of New Orleans. The following January, clarinettist Evan Christopher, at the invitation of the French government, accepted an artist residency in Paris, funded by an American programme called French-American Cultural Exchange. In Paris he formed two groups, the Jazz Traditions Project and Django à la Créole. For the latter, he took the Hot Club texture, pioneered by Django Reinhardt, and seasoned it liberally with blues, Latin rhythms, and collective improvisation. The primary inspiration for Django à la Créole was the legendary guitarist's collaborations with American musicians, especially his 1939 recordings with New Orleans clarinettist Barney Bigard. Bigard’s fluid lines and characteristically New Orleans sound artfully juxtaposed with Django's angular, virtuoso flights provided the compelling combination upon which Evan Christopher based his group's unique sound. In the true spirit of New Orleans music, each musician in the band is dedicated to extending the legacy of the music by rendering the style-specific language of their instruments faithfully yet personally with emotion, imagination, and humour.

Taking the advice of New Orleans piano professor Jelly-Roll Morton who said, "For jazz, you've got to have that Spanish Tinge, “Django à la Créole” distinguishes itself from the myriad other efforts paying tribute to arguably the greatest European jazz musician by using the infectious rhythms from New Orleans, Cuba, Brazil, and the Caribbean. The group also acknowledges Django's love for Louis Armstrong and New Orleans music by broadening their repertoire to pay homage to the most significant early jazz innovators including Armstong, Morton and Sidney Bechet.

Django à la Créole is the fusion of gypsy swing with hot syncopations from the streets of New Orleans, the Caribbean and Brazil - Elegant and impassioned... Together with guitarists David Blenkhorn, Dave Kelbie, and bassist Sébastien Girardot, the quartet celebrates the music of the legendary Django Reinhardt and enlivens swing-era classics with fresh interpretations and virtuosic improvisations.

Evan Christopher began his musical training on clarinet at age 11. In high school, he received the Louis Armstrong National Jazz Award and was one of the first graduates of the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Academy. He continued studies at the University of Southern California and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach before moving to New Orleans. His published research and academic presentations on the New Orleans clarinet style initiated the pursuit of a Master's degree in Musicology at Tulane University. In August of 2005, the Federal levee failures that flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina sent him travelling continuously on "Clarinet Road" until he returned in November of 2007. Evan Christopher's style is steeped in the tradition exemplified by early jazz masters such as Sidney Bechet, Jimmie Noone, and Barney Bigard.

Originally from Sydney (Australia), David Blenkhorn was a part of a vibrant scene for 10 years where he performed with jazz icons Graham Belle, Bob Barnard, Tom Baker and James Morrison. Since moving to the UK he has performed with Enrico Tomasso, Martin Taylor, Nina Ferro, Campbell Burnap and Dave Kelbie. He has been a regular on the European festival circuit and has enjoyed performances in France, Switzerland, Italy and Holland alongside US artists Harry Allen, Lilian Boutte, Evan Christopher, Leroy Jones and Eddie Locke. David Blenkhorn is known for his strong, warm tone and vibrant playing. His personal style is influenced by the jazz greats Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Sébastien Girardot discovered the bass as a young man. By the time he left the great continent for Paris at the age of 18, he had toured internationally as a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra and was part of Tom Baker's All-Star Band at Wangaratta. He had performed at Australia's premier jazz festivals such as Melbourne International, Manly and Thredbo alongside some fantastic musicians and diverse bands including Bob Barnard, the Hoodangers, Geoff Bull, the Louisiana Shakers, the Band Who Knew Too Much and Allan Browne. Sébastien has built a highly personal style on a foundation of classical training and early experience with New Orleans Revival style groups. Powerful and swinging, he is in wide demand across Europe and has appeared at the continent's foremost jazz festivals and clubs alongside musicians such as Leroy Jones, Harry Allen, Shannon Powell, Dan Barrett, Evan Christopher, Lillian Boutté and John Allred. Sébastien has also developed his international reputation on recordings for jazz labels including GHB, Jazz Crusade, Fremeaux, Jazzology and Black & Blue.

A self taught guitarist, Dave Kelbie’s first professional engagements were with the celebrated gypsy guitarist from Holland, Fapy Lafertin. He initiated the first European tour in 1989 with the quartet Lejazz and this partnership has lasted until recently with CD releases on Lejazzetal Records including "Swing Guitars" and the highly acclaimed "Hungaria" with tours as recently as 2004. Through his alliance with Lafertin have come performances with musicians such as Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos, US Clarinettist Bob Wilber, Biréli Lagrène and Lollo Meier. Over the last 20 years Dave Kelbie has been a prominent accompanist to many of the world’s leading jazz soloists and gypsy musicians. He has an extended professional role as a tour promoter and a record producer.

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