Harmonious Wail presents;
The 2016 Midwinter Midwest Gypsy Swing Fest
Joscho Stephan Trio
Sam Miltich and Martha Larson
Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan
Jack Soref Quartet
Friday February 12;
Harmonious Wail will get the festival under way.
Smoldering vocals laced among the jazzy mandolin and guitar; an infectious blend of continental jazz, swing, gypsy music and melodic vocals how DOES one describe the sound of Harmonious Wail? The Wail has caught numerous listeners by total surprise during its more than 20-year history. Of all the venues and stages that these ‘NPR regulars’ have graced, it’s the PAC’s, festivals and showcase clubs that bring the most enthusiastic audience response!
The Jack Soref Quartet – featuring Dallas Vietty
is an exciting Gypsy Jazz ensemble. Reaching
both forward and back in time, it pays homage
to the music of Django Reinhardt while
simultaneously enriching the tradition, with its
own compositions, arrangements and swinging
improvisations. Audiences are sure to be swept
away by the ensemble’s personal mix of
crackling Bebop, romantic Gypsy sonorities,
and impressionistic melodies.
Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan is Chicago’s premier gypsy-jazz band.
The group plays the 1930s-style music of guitarist Django Reinhardt — foot-tappin’ swing played on acoustic instruments. It’s a blend of the jubilant swing of early jazz with the feisty passion of gypsy music, plus a strong dose of guitar pyrotechnics and virtuosic improvisation.
Formed in 2001, Swing Gitan features bandleader Alfonso Ponticelli on lead guitar and a world-class lineup of musicians on violin, rhythm guitar and upright bass, with the occasional special guest. Over the years, they’ve played with many of the great contemporary gypsy-jazz players from around the world, including Bireli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg, Moreno, Angelo DeBarre and the Robin Nolan Trio.
Around Chicago, Swing Gitan plays frequently at the Green Mill and Pops for Champagne. They’ve also played at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Field Museum, the Terra Museum of American Art, the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Summerdance Festival — and they had the honor of performing at Millennium Park on its opening night.
Alfonso has studied gypsy-jazz music for more than a decade, having traveled several times to the annual Django Reinhardt festival in France. He introduced gypsy-jazz to Chicago in the 1990s, when he began teaching a weekly Django-style class at the renowned Old Town School of Folk Music, and he is often invited to teach his popular workshops at festivals around the country. A multi-instrumentalist, he won the 1994 U.S. National Mountain Dulcimer Championship and plays both banjo and guitar with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s also a gypsy flamenco guitarist, having been to Cordoba, Spain, to study with the great flamenco guitarist Rafael Riqueni. At the Iridium in New York, Les Paul invited Alfonso to play as a special guest with his trio.
Saturday February 14;
7pm – Sam Miltich with Martha Larson
Sam Miltich is a jazz guitarist born and raised in the woods of northern Minnesota. He is a musician by profession and plays regularly in the Upper Midwest as a soloist and with his band the Clearwater Hot Club. In addition to gypsy swing and traditional jazz his musical interests include Brazilian choro, French musette, Eastern European tamburitza, and other forms of traditional folk music.
While Sam was growing up, music was always a part of the gatherings of his large extended family. At age fourteen he began playing folk and bluegrass guitar. He’d been playing piano since age four when his favorite musicians were Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, but in guitar he found his true passion. At a screening of Woody Allen’s movie “Sweet and Lowdown,” Sam heard the music of the late gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt for the first time. The combination of acoustic instruments, driving rhythm, and the swing feel sounded like a melding of his favorite genres of music into one. Sam decided to dedicate himself to the study of gypsy jazz. By the time he was eighteen he was touring with the Robin Nolan Trio in the U.S. and Europe. He would later join the Hot Club of San Francisco for two years before starting his own band, the Clearwater Hot Club. In 2010, he fulfilled a dream he’d had since he was five years old and started the Big Dipper Jazz Band — a traditional six-piece jazz band.
Sam now hosts the weekly Jazz at the VFW in Grand Rapids, MN, on Wednesdays with a rotating cast of musicians and plays regularly with the Clearwater Hot Club whose players include Matthew Miltich, upright bass; Mike Miller, drums and a diverse group of soloists including Pat Downing, trombone; Gary Schulte, violin; Randy Lee, saxophone; Patrick Harison, accordion; Tony Balluff, clarinet; Doug Haining, saxophone; Connie Evingson, vocals; and Charmin Michelle, vocals.
In addition to promoting his bands, Sam is always seeking out new musical connections. His recent musical collaborators have included mandolin virtuoso Peter Ostroushko, legendary Twin Cities saxophonist Dave Karr, jazz and classical guitarist Joan Griffith, and Dutch jazz violinist Tim Kliphuis.
Sam continues to live in northern Minnesota where he gardens, hunts, and roots for the Minnesota Twins
with Martha Larson
Martha was classically trained as a youth, but expanded to jazz and rock as a college student while earning her mechanical engineering degree at Northwestern University. She was active in the Chicago music scene for over ten years, performing with various rock and jazz ensembles including singer-songwriter Kat Parsons, indie rock band The Paper Airplane Pilots, prog rock ensemble Aziola Cry, rock musician Phil Angotti, and gypsy jazz guitarist Alfonso Ponticelli. Martha was also a founding member of Chicago gypsy jazz ensemble, the Uptown Strings. She studied jazz theory, improvisation, writing and arranging with David Bloom at the Bloom School of Jazz who is also producing her debut solo jazz album.
Upon moving to Northfield, MN in 2010, Martha founded gypsy jazz ensemble Ile du Berceau, makes frequent appearances with the Clearwater Hot Club and strives to cultivate the budding gypsy jazz scene in southern Minnesota. Her latest endeavor was to establish the now-annual Northfield Gypsy Jazz Jam Series which brings professional musicians from throughout Minnesota to the small town of Northfield for rousing “hot club” style community jam sessions.
Martha began her professional career as an acoustical consultant for the Chicago firm of Kirkegaard Associates and a project manager for the Rise Group. She is now the Manger of Campus Energy and Sustainability at Carleton College. She lives in Northfield with her loving husband, Nat and adorable baby daughter, Olga.
8:15pm – Harmonious Wail www.wail.com
9:30pm – Joscho Stephan Trio
Joscho Stephan (born 1979 in Mönchengladbach, Germany) is a German Jazz guitarist who mainly plays modern Gypsy jazz. He began playing the guitar at the age of six, when influenced by his father who had been a member of a local cover band. He is particularly noted for his virtuosity on the acoustic guitar in the style of Gypsy jazz.
His debut album was named CD of the month by the American Guitar Player magazine in July 2000. In May 2004 the Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote that Joscho Stephan represented the future of the Gypsy jazz guitar tradition.