Wednesday, May 11, 2011

HOLD THE DATE! Franglais @ Jalopy Theatre May 19 @ 10 pm

New York, NY May 11, 2011 - New York-based Gypsy swing band Franglais will be celebrating the arrival of their new CD, Un Grand Bonheur (Great Happiness), with a release party at the Jalopy Theatre on Thursday, May 19 at 10 p.m.

The new CD is a blend of music old and new, with layers of influence and a continuing conversation between the generations of a great American art form, namely, jazz. But how American is it? The CD poses a musical conversation on the topic.

“If Gypsy jazz is what happens when Django, a Manouche Gypsy, interpreted American jazz, then Franglais' music is what happens when American jazz musicians interpret Gypsy jazz,” says the band’s vocalist, Eve Selzer, who came up with the band’s name Franglais.

“It’s a word that describes the American version of pidgin French,” Seltzer explains. “For example, we speak of pie a la mode, or toss a French phrase into casual conversation to sound sophisticated. The name is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek description of the concept of the band.”

According to bandleader and arranger Ben Wood, “Franglais is all about fusing textures and sounds from different eras. I mean really, a Gypsy jazz band with a full time vocalist? Made up  entirely of Americans who play Lady Gaga, and Green Day? It sounds like jazz and we love it!”

The repertoire of the band encompasses the traditional sounds of Django Reinhardt’s trademark Gypsy swing, but it also embraces popular songs -- songs to which the band members feel connected.

The band members have very diverse listening habits. Wood’s favorites include Gypsy jazz guitar virtuosi Sebastien Gineaux, Adrien Moignard, Mathieu Chatlan, Bireli Largrene and Hono Winterstien. Selzer and bassis Piruz Partow have diverse musical palates -- everything from classic bebop (Bird, Duke Ellington, Mingus) to punk and rock (Green Day, MC5, Phish). Guitarst Justin Lees style reflects his diverse musical passions. He has been mentored by guitar greats Herb Ellis, Howard Alden, Emily Remler and Danny Gatton, among others.

Un Grand Bonheur encompasses Stevie Wonder to Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Reworkings of classic pop songs have always been a part of jazz -- and one of the few ways jazz music keeps up with the times- to play a tune  like Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi,” plus, says Wood, it was a lot of fun for the band members too see  the light of recognition on audience members faces as they realize what this tune actually is.

The band gives a nod to the French culture, which is a strong influence, and they wanted to include an update of the classic Edith Piaf number, "La Vie En Rose.”

Seltzer’s voice adds a distinct acknowledgement of tradition coupled with the edge of adventure.

“I was raised on a diet of folk and rock music at home,” she says. “My mother adored the Beatles, and my father loved Hoyt Axton, Johnny Cash, and the Kingston Trio. When I started singing classical music in choir at age 8, I discovered the music that my father locked himself up in his study to listen to: opera and chorale. My first exposure to jazz was in my school band, where I played trombone from grades 5 through 10.”

Seltzer lists her music teachers, Barry Harris and Rodney Kendrick, as influences on her music. “I would also like to think that Abbey Lincoln would enjoy us.”

One collaborator on the project is fellow New Yorker Ted Gottsegen, a staple of the Gypsy swing scene.

“Ted was full of ideas for Franglais during his brief time with the band,” says Wood. “We still use his arrangement concepts for a number of tunes, including several that aren't on the CD. Plus, he's a lot of fun to be around.”

The CD was recorded at Second Story sound in Chinatown, with engineering by Jeff Cook. Seltzer is the engineer responsible for mixing, editing, and mastering the project.

This recording is different from the first CD for several reasons: The biggest reason is that this is the band that has been playing together for over two years; and unlike the band’s last CD this one features just the band members with no guest artists.

“That allowed us to choose some of the more interesting songs we play, and allowed us to come to the recording session with basic arrangements already worked out and honed by about a year or so of live gigs,” says Wood. “Plus, this one actually represents what we sound like when we gig!”

Franglais will perform its latest CD release, Un Grand Bonheur, at the Jalopy Theatre Thursday, May 19, which is located at 315 Columbia Street in Brooklyn. Opening act will be the Daryus Schieder Trio. For details visit

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