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Interview: Jim Doyle From the Hot Club of Los Angeles

There is a subgenre of jazz that remains a bit of a mystery. On one hand, it’s incredibly popular as a sound that you’ve heard throughout film, television, and marketing for many years. On the other, there might not be many records in your collection that represent this style. It is, however, endlessly exciting and features musicians who play at a breathtaking level. If you love jazz, and you’d like to hear something new, get yourself into a genre commonly referred to as Gypsy Jazz, or jazz Manouche.

Popularized - and more, or less invented by - Django Reinhardt on guitar with Stéphane Grappelli on violin at his side, the style came to prominence in France during the early part of the 20th century, through their performances with the Quintette du Hot Club de France, or in American terms: the Hot Club of France. Much of the sound’s mystery comes from the fact that it was born of a nomadic group of people traversing Europe. That multi-cultural influence, however, is what gives jazz Manouche its uniquely full-flavored sound.

Though Reinhardt died in 1953, the style that he popularized has become a permanent part of the landscape and there are several groups and musicians still carrying the torch that they lit. But how has the genre developed nearly a century later? One place to discover - or rediscover - the sound, is by hearing the newest release from the Hot Club of Los Angeles, Nova.

On Nova the quintet shares a collection of 15 tracks ranging from classic and contemporary gypsy jazz, bossa nova, French chanson and traditional Roma fare to film soundtrack, jazz standards and originals composed by the group’s members in a few different languages.

To discuss the current state of Gypsy Jazz in sunny California, we are joined today by the group’s drummer, Jim Doyle. He’ll discuss Jackson Browne’s fandom of the group, the band’s decade long, Monday-night residency at The Cinema Bar in Culver City, and explore the lineage of the sound and the HCLA. Gypsy jazz takes on its nomadic heritage through its sound, borrowing and blending unique contributions from different customs and cultures. If you want to hear how 100 years and nearly 6,000 miles have altered the genre, listen to some Django, then switch on the Hot Club of Los Angeles.


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