Van Django

Hot enough for the Hot Club itself

Vancouver's Van Django scorches its way through Sunday concert in Castlegar

Some things are just too great to pass away – ancient art and classical music are a couple, and more modern fare like the music performed and inspired by legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhart is another.

The intense and unique style of string jazz that flourished in 1930s Europe is enjoying an ongoing resurgence due to its discovery by new generations of listeners. Passionate new fans are created whenever and wherever the music is played.

A Vancouver-based quartet called Van Django brought the gospel of “Manouche” style gypsy-jazz to the Kootenay Gallery on Feb. 24. Reinhart  – godfather of the genre – led the famous  Quintet of the Hot Club of France in the 30s and 40s along with equally legendary violinist Stephane Grapelli.

A full house of close to 100 music lovers ate up the two set concert. One audience member was moved to joyful tears right from the get-go as the tight and talented four-piece outfit launched into the pop favourite “Exactly Like You.”

This group, made up of violinist Cameron Wilson, guitarist/emcee Budge Schachte, guitarist/cellist Finn Manniche and bassist Brent Gubbels, is the real McCoy, doing faithful and flawless service to a vault of material that’s as precious as gold. The show was the latest in a Gallery concert series sponsored by the TD bank and arranged by series artistic director Nicola Everton.

The Van Django guys are perennial favourites at a festival (Djangofest) devoted to this kind of music. Their expertise and love of what they do is infectious.

Mixed in on the set-list was an assortment of original works that easily stood on their own merits. The group showed it’s humourous side as well with a romp based on the hot club standard “Minor Swing” seasoned with snippets from TV themes including Spiderman, Mission Impossible, Perry Mason, Rocky and His Friends and Get Smart.

The sound quality in the gallery was perfect, nothing was missed by the listener and the virtuosity of each band member was nothing short of stunning. As the players were being introduced they vamped on the Average White Band 70s hit “Pick Up The Pieces.” Further demonstrating their versatility they closed the show with a pair of Beatles  songs… Norweigian Wood and Day in the Life. Choice!

They said they were pleased and surprised by the great turnout at the Gallery that afternoon… they sure weren’t the only ones happy.

Check em out at

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