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Gypsy jazz arrives at Carnegie Arts Center

Le Jazz Hot is the quartet of the Hot Club of San Francisco, continuing the tradition of gypsy jazz.
Le Jazz Hot is the quartet of the Hot Club of San Francisco, continuing the tradition of gypsy jazz.

Gypsy jazz makes its way into Turlock on Tuesday when Le Jazz Hot, the quartet of the Hot Club of San Francisco led by Paul Mehling, brings its music to the Carnegie Arts Center.

Mehling, dubbed the godfather of American gypsy jazz, according to a press release from the Carnegie, has been taking his group across the region and around the world since 1989. Featuring acoustic guitars, bass and violin, the group performs swing music in the style pioneered by gypsy jazz great Django Reinhardt in the 1930s.

“We have a swing-or-die approach to the music that’s distinctly American,” Mehling was quoted in a Carnegie press release. “We’re trying to challenge the tendency to slavishly imitate Django’s style without watering down the gypsy tradition. We bring out the visceral element of the music. When I talk with gypsy musicians, they say that they love what we do because they can tell we love the music.”

Coincidentally, Mehling and the group have contributed three original songs to the soundtrack of a newly released film that’s playing this week at the State Theatre in Modesto: “My Old Lady,” starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristen Scott-Thomas. The State Theatre is at 1307 J St.

Mehling discovered the music of Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in grammar school.

The Hot Club of San Francisco’s first album was produced by Mehling and put out on the band’s own label. Since then, it has released nine more albums. The group also was the first American band invited to play the Festival de Jazz Django Reinhardt in Samois-Sur-Seine, France.

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