Arts and Entertainment

Free concert series kicks off with Pearl Django

Pearl Django will play at the free Concerts in the Park series at Battle Point Park on July 9.  - Photo courtesy of Pearl Django
Pearl Django will play at the free Concerts in the Park series at Battle Point Park on July 9.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Pearl Django

Concerts in the Park returns to Bainbridge Island’s Battle Point Park tonight with the Gypsy jazz of Pearl Django.

The concert series runs July 9 through Aug. 20.

Grab the kids, a picnic meal and enjoy an evening of music and dance. Free concerts will be held at Battle Point Park from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Parking is available off Arrow Point Drive; follow the signs.

With a performance history spanning almost two decades, Pearl Django is known as one of the most highly regarded Hot Club-style groups working today. 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.

The group started as a trio in Tacoma in 1994. The focus of Pearl Django was, and 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.

The group — made up of Troy Chapman (guitar), Ryan Hoffman (guitar), David Lange (accordion), Michael Gray (violin) and Rick Leppanen (bass) — has released more than 10 CDs.

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.

Pearl Django was voted favorite area jazz band by Seattle Weekly readers in 2003, and has performed at festivals, dances and nightspots throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Along the West Coast, Pearl Django has performed from Los Angeles to Fairbanks. Other festival performances include: les Rendez-Vous de l’Erdre, Nantes, France; Sacramento Jazz Jubilee; Django Festival Iceland; Django Fest Northwest, Whidbey Island; Django Fest LA, Laguna Beach, California; Django Fest SF, Redwood City, California; Juneau Folk Festival, Juneau, Alaska; Capital City Jazz Festival, Madison, Wisconsin; Sweet and Hot Festival, Los Angeles, California; Great Connecticut Jazz Festival, Guilford, Connecticut; Mission Folk Festival, Mission B.C.; Bumbershoot & Folklife Festival, Seattle; Wintergrass (a bluegrass festival) Washington, Jazz Alley, Seattle; and the Sun Valley Jazz Jubilee, Sun Valley, Idaho.

The Concerts in the Park schedule is:

• July 9: Pearl Django; Hot Club-style Gypsy jazz

• July 16:  Matuto; Forro folkloric music of Brazil with sounds of All-American bluegrass.

• John Reischman & the Jaybirds: Stylish, elegant bluegrass.

• July 30: Laura Love Trio: Vocalist and strong songwriter.

• Aug. 6: The Senate: Face-melting acoustic music from a Seattle band.

• Aug. 13: Jessica Lynne: Pure country.

• Aug. 20: Shaggy Sweet: Classic rock and originals with a twist.



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