Hot Club Edmonton saddles up for an afternoon of Gypsy-swing


Hot Club Edmonton
Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m.
St. Albert Community Hall
17 Perron St.
General admission: $15
Call 780-459-1542 or at

It’s been six decades since the death of Django Reinhardt. Yet scores of musicians remain inspired by the Gypsy-jazz genre he invented with its fluid phrasing and lightning fast arpeggios.

Together with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, the duo created a musical legacy in the 1930s that would eventually carpet the world. They were the original Quintette du Hot Club France, a major force in music history.

Listeners were instantly mesmerized by the guitar-dominated technique. The quintet would play full throttle one minute: the next, they would abruptly cut the tempo and produce a majestic slow section. But always a brisk chugging backbeat was at the heart of classic Gypsy jazz.

As part of the Arden Theatre series, Hot Club Edmonton pays a significant tribute to these great historical legends with a passionate afternoon of authentic Gypsy jazz at St. Albert Community Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

Lead guitarist Clinton Pelletier, rhythm guitarist Thea Neumann Pelletier, upright bassist Keith Rempel and violinist Daniel Gervais, 2011 Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion, have meticulously planned and arranged a program packed with cover songs and old-fashioned storytelling.

“Gypsy jazz is actually Gypsy Swing. Back in the 1940s American Swing was known throughout the world and they (Reinhardt-Grappelli) adapted American jazz in a Gypsy way,” said Gervais.

“They took two or three guitars and a string bass, but it’s the rhythm guitar that drives the music. It’s like a big train moving forward.”

Gervais and Pelletier first met in 2000 at a fiddle camp in Saskatchewan where Morinville fiddle champ Calvin Vollrath was teaching. Pelletier and Gervais clicked instantly.

“We both grew up on bluegrass music and old-time fiddling, but we were open to new possibilities.”

Both loved the highly infectious Hot Club sounds and in 2006 recorded a demo. Additionally, that same year Gervais travelled to honour Grappelli’s ashes interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

The 44-hectare Parisian cemetery is marked with graves from famous people around the world. Certain luminaries are Oscar Wilde, Moliere, Chopin, Jim Morrison, Jules Vern and Alice B. Toklas to name several.

Gervais visited the cemetery to see Grappelli’s plaque and returned with a renewed energy to capture the essence of the French quintet.

“When people hear we play jazz, they often think elevator jazz. But we’re very upbeat swing. I liken it to a dance club – the fire and the fury.”

As the 2011 Western Canadian Music Award winners for Best Instrumental Album, and a decade of experience fine-tuning their prairie brand of Gypsy swing, Hot Club Edmonton is raring to go.

“We know how to put on an event. It’s not just music. It’s also storytelling and having a fun time. It’s like having a party in your living room.”




About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.