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Interviews

Pearl Django: A Decade of 'Hot Club' Jazz

By Published: January 15, 2004

AAJ: How often do you tour during the year? Are you prepared to quit your day job if the band continues to grow in popularity?



RL: If you count touring as out-of-state gigs, we tour about 7 or 8 times a year. And actually we quit our day jobs three years ago. We all do a bit of teaching and perform with other groups. Michael’s day job is keeping the group working. Mine is managing the Modern Hot Records and accounting. Greg has recently spent numerous hours compiling the charts for a Pearl Django play-along book and CD due in December. Neil takes care of the mailing list.

AAJ: Your Seattle-area fan base is large. What are some of your favorite places to play around town?

RL: Finding performance venues, as any jazz musician will tell you, is a problem. We would love to find an Eastside venue, for instance. We have two regular haunts in Seattle: Bouchee, is a wonderful Fremont café; and the Hopvine, which is almost a home away from home for us. Both are small, and that puts limits on size of audience. Also, the Hopvine can be noisy. Both are at best once a month. Jazz Alley is nice because of a “listening” audience and a sound system. We play Jazzbones in Tacoma and the rest of our local gigs are sporadic events.

AAJ: I imagine that folk, jazz and even classical musicians, and especially violin and guitar aficionados, appreciate Pearl Django’s music. Can you share some of the comments you get from musicians in other genres of music?

RL: When I spoke with other musicians, after joining Pearl Django five years ago, I was surprised to hear so many favorable comments about the band. I believe, at least in part, the appreciation comes from the fact that we swing hard, are very tight (most of the time) and have two extremely good guitarists in Neil and Dudley. Also, we don’t treat the music as a novelty.

AAJ: Has Bill Frisell ever asked to sit in?

NA: We’ve shared the stage with Bill Frisell, but he has never performed with us. He would always be welcome. This last summer the renowned jazz guitarist Howard Alden sat in with us during a concert in L.A. You may recall that he played the guitar parts in the Woody Allen film, Sweet and Lowdown. Among the tunes we played with him was “I’ll See You in My Dreams” that was featured in the movie. It was great fun.

Visit Pearl Django on the web at www.pearldjango.com .



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