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Django Reinhardt Project takes on the Gypsy jazz master; the 60-piece Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra makes its SF debut

In the 1930s, Belgium-born Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt wowed Parisian cafe crowds with a sassy, soulful, unprecedented approach to jazz that combined lyrical melodies, hip-shaking rhythms, and jaw-dropping solos. Seventy years later his music lives on in the white-hot six-string picking of French Gypsy magus Dorado Schmitt and his son Samson, who lead the Django Reinhardt Project, a dazzling homage to the pioneer of so-called Gypsy swing. The group's evolving lineup currently features renowned accordionist Ludovic Beier, upright bassist Brian Torff (who used to play with Reinhardt cohort Stephane Grappelli), and irrepressible saxophonist James Carter, who a few years back on the tribute disc Chasin' the Gypsy proved that in the right hands even a burly instrument like the bass sax can hit Django's grooves spot-on. From evocative old-school ballads to lightning-fast dance tracks, the band's virtuosic performances nearly match the energy of its namesake's note for note. The Django Reinhardt Project appears Thursday through Sunday, July 29-Aug. 1, at Yoshi's; call (510) 238-9200 or visit www.yoshis.com.
-- Sam Prestianni

Irrepressible saxophonist James 
Carter, of the Django Reinhardt 
Irrepressible saxophonist James Carter, of the Django Reinhardt Project.

The concept of applying hip hop's cut-and-paste aesthetic to live instrumentation has been refined and perfected by the likes of the Roots and Los Angelesbased beat reanimators the Breakestra, but no group has ever executed the idea on the same scale as the 60-piece Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra. Composer and conductor Geoff "Double G" Gallegos founded Dakah back in 1999 as an outlet to bring his classical training together with an abiding love for the music of Gang Starr and the Pharcyde. The massive ensemble touches on the maverick spirit of past orchestral innovators such as Igor Stravinsky, Charles Mingus, and heavily sampled '60s producer David Axelrod with its inspired combination of swing, soul, and thumping grooves. The North Beach Jazz Festival brings Dakah to the Bay Area for its first concert outside of the Los Angeles area, headlining the fest's 10th Anniversary Gala at the Palace of Fine Arts on Saturday, July 31; call 971-7577 or go to www.sunsetpromotions.net.
-- Dave Pehling

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