Pearl Django to share wisdom, music

Gypsy jazz band Pearl DjangoPearl Django will bring its brand of gypsy jazz and swing to SUNY Oswego with a 7:30 p.m. concert Saturday, Nov. 12, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

The performance, accompanied by workshops on guitar technique and musical styles, will headline the fifth annual daylong Jazz Guitar and More Festival at SUNY Oswego.

Pearl Django finds both a name and inspiration in jazz legend Django Reinhardt, who developed a distinct style by blending the improvisational nature of jazz with the music of his gypsy upbringing. Playing nationally and internationally for over a decade, Pearl Django continues this tradition of musical experimentation by combining gypsy jazz with American swing music.

“Pearl Django play(s) gypsy jazz . . . with such verve, skill and pleasure that they’re pretty much irresistible to jazz and non-jazz listeners alike,” said the Seattle Weekly. Acoustic Guitar magazine praised Pearl Django as “. . . one of the most capable and intelligent swing revival bands on either side of the Atlantic.”

The band began as a collaboration by co-founders and guitarists Neil Andersson and Dudley Hill. Andersson, originally a violinist, played with a number of rock groups before developing a taste for jazz. Hill had roots in American fiddle music. Blending two such different styles led to the development of a singularly innovative sound.

In 2005, Hill lost a battle with cancer. His work with the band was fundamental in the forming of its stylistic identity, and Pearl Django continues to use many of his original compositions.

Rhythm guitarist Greg Ruby, bassist Rick Leppanen and violinist Michael Gray complete the current lineup. Together, they have performed at festivals in France, Iceland and across the United States.

They were voted the favorite area jazz band of 2003 by Seattle Weekly readers and were interviewed on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” in 2001. The band released its eighth album, “Chasing Shadows,” in spring 2005 on the Modern Hot Records label.

Pearl Django strives to appeal to listeners of many different musical tastes, from fans of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club sound to jazz, swing, bluegrass or world-music aficionados.

Tickets for the evening concert in Waterman Theatre cost $14 ($10 for seniors or students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students).

As part of the Jazz Guitar and More Festival, Pearl Django will offer several workshops in addition to the evening performance. The festival runs all day Nov. 12, and registration is required.

Early registration for the festival costs $45 for the public ($25 for students, $10 for SUNY Oswego students). After Oct. 30, festival registration is $55 (students $35, SUNY Oswego students $15). Concerts-only passes, for performances throughout the day, cost $35 ($20 for students, $10 for SUNY Oswego students).

For information or reservations, visit or contact the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141 or

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CONTACT: Mary Avrakotos, 312-4581 or 

(Posted: Oct 19, 2005)