New Orleans in Paris
Evan Christopher, New Orleans-based leader of Django à la Créole.
Evan Christopher, a New Orleans-based clarinetist and band leader, is bringing his Django à la Créole project to Paris’s Duc des Lombards club, July 17-19, as part of the “Nous n’Irons pas à New York” festival. Originally from California, Christopher has lived in New Orleans, the city whose musical traditions inform his work, since 1994.
After the 2005 flooding of the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Christopher was offered an artist’s residence by the City of Paris, in conjunction with the Cultural Services Department of the French Embassy in the United States. “I didn’t imagine going back to New Orleans in 2006,” says Christopher, “and I was imagining what I wanted to do if I stayed in Paris.” He assembled a quartet of European-based musicians, the Jazz Traditions Project.
France, and more specifically Paris, he says, “has always been and continues to be very accepting of jazz as an artful music. Serious criticism for jazz began here. The level of musicianship here is not only very high, but many musicians here are coming up with some sophisticated music. It’s inspiring.”
Dave Kelbie, one of the musicians with whom he worked during that period, “a terrific rhythm guitarist,” gave the impetus for putting together a band called Django à la Créole to interpret the music of Django Reinhardt. The group mixes Reinhardt’s music with the rhythms of New Orleans, as well as Caribbean and Brazilian grooves.
“For me,” says Christopher, “Django’s biggest contribution to jazz was the concept of a European tradition of jazz. Of course, he was a very innovative guitarist as well, but I think more importantly he allowed the development of traditions that were and are unapologetically European.
“This is Django à la Créole’s fifth season, and we’re trying to broaden our repertoire beyond our two CD releases. Duc des Lombards is very intimate, so folks can look forward to being up close and personal with four musicians who are still having fun with the music.”
Click here for an article by Evan Christopher on the Festival Django Reinhardt in Samois, in which he discusses the links between Django and New Orleans musicians, and here to watch a video of Christopher performing at the Duc des Lombards.
Duc des Lombards: 42, rue des Lombards, 75001 Paris. Métro: Châtelet. Reservations: 01 42 33 22 88. Tickets: €30. July 17-19. www.ducdeslombards.com
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