Arts and Entertainment

Pearl Django entertains with jazz classic, signature style at WICA

Pearl Django is the headliner of a two-group concert set for Saturday, Jan. 19, at WICA in Langley.  -
Pearl Django is the headliner of a two-group concert set for Saturday, Jan. 19, at WICA in Langley.
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Whidbey Island Center for the Arts presents Pearl Django and Douce Ambience in Concert at WICA, 565 Camano Ave., Langley, on Saturday, Jan.19, at 7:30 p.m.

Pearl Django started as a trio in Tacoma in 1994. Their focus is to incorporate the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli with American swing music. They quickly expanded to a quintet, adding a violinist and a third guitarist.

An interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in 2001 brought the group to national attention. In June 2002, Pearl Django performed at the prestigious Festival Django Reinhardt in Samois sur Seine, just outside of Paris, France.

As of 2007, Pearl Django is working as both a quartet and a quintet (with accordionist, David Lange). All of the members are contributing original compositions to the band’s expansive repertoire. They have released 11 CDs to date. The band members are Troy Chapman, guitar; Ryan Hoffman, guitar; David Lange, accordion; Michael Gray, violin; and Rick Leppanen, bass.

Although the band’s roots are firmly in the music made famous by Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli, its extensive repertoire includes traditional jazz classics and original compositions. The band’s signature style is marked by pristine and dexterous string work, colors of Bal Musette, the steady pulse of rhythm guitar and an unmistakable swing that delights audiences of all musical sensibilities.

Throughout the years, Pearl Django has cultivated a devoted and enthusiastic following and they continue to play to packed houses wherever they perform.

“Pearl Django plays gypsy jazz, and they do it with such verve, skill and pleasure that they’re pretty much irresistible to jazz and non-jazz listeners alike,” states a review in the Seattle Weekly.

Seattle Times writer Paul de Barros described Pearl Django as “the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt done to perfection!”

For the Langley show, Pearl Django welcomes special guest Douce Ambience, a string trio of violin, viola and cello. They cover that wonderful and vast terrain that is best described as “Brahms meets Wayne Shorter.” Jazz standards, Brazilian choros, Musette waltzes, American fiddle tunes, and original compositions highlight their live performances. Douce Ambience members are Gwen Franz, Michael Gray, and James Hinkley.

Tickets cost $22.50 and available by calling the WICA Ticket Office at 221-8268 or 800-638-7631.

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