Jun 18, 2009 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Buffalo’s best band plays in Syracuse June 20
On its brand new disc, American Gypsy, the Buffalo band Babik delivers verve-vacious versions of “After You’ve Gone” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” two of the most popular tunes of the first half of the 20th century.
But that’s not why the band does them. They do them because they were recorded in Paris in the mid-1930s by the Quintette du Hot Club de France, which featured the legendary three-fingered guitarist Django Reinhardt and the swing fiddler St (c)phane Grappelli.
While the group’s sound is clearly a heartfelt homage to the Quintette du Hot Club de France, Babik doesn’t simply play tunes that Django played.
Babik (pronounced Bah-BEEK), is named after Django’s son born in 1944. Babik makes its Syracuse debut at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 20, at the Westcott Theater, 524 Westcott St., on the city’s East Side. Admission costs $10; 299-8886.
While the group’s sound is clearly a heartfelt homage to the Quintette du Hot Club de France, Babik doesn’t simply play tunes that Django played. Of the 13 tracks on the new CD, 10 are original compositions which uniformly pulsate with the passionate rhythms of the Gypsies.
The band’s own numbers include the disc opener “Stephie’s Stomp” by lead guitarist Stuart Fuchs and “Romungo” by rhythm guitarist Joshua Assad. Violinist Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry contributed three tunes including “Sweet Sustenance,” while bassist Kevin O’Brien wrote “Chipotle” and “Life Is a Dream.”
Babik’s two guitarists play Dell’Arte six-strings modeled after the Selmer Maccaferri guitars favored by Django’s Quintette. Many luthiers consider them to be among the finest guitars now being made.
Both live and in the studio, Babik often features special guests such as accordionist Vladimir Mollov, vocalist Heather Hodson, cellist Kathleen Ashwill and clarinetist Brian “Dr. Jazz” Bauer.
For three years in a row, two different magazines in Buffalo have named Babik the “Best Jazz Band” in town.
Their first release, Pronounced Bah-Beek, broke Western New York sales records at two area retailers.
Dubbed “Best Jazz Band” by two different Buffalo magazines for three years in a row, Babik’s initial release, Pronounced Bah-Beek, broke Western New York sales records at two area retailers.
Babik really reaches across generational and stylistic lines to create a decidedly diverse fan base. At their concerts you often see a white-haired 75-year-old grandmother dancing next to a purple-haired 20-something, and that’s likely to be the scene at the Westcott.
Formed in 2005, the group bridges jaw-dropping virtuosity with a toe-tapping danceability that keeps its audiences enthusiastically engaged.
“The way we connect with our listeners is evident in the way crowds clap, dance, and cheer along with nearly every concert,” said bassist Josh Assad. “People seem to appreciate our lighthearted improvisational performances.”
Babik stays busy performing more than 150 shows a year at concert halls and festivals, in addition to facilitating educational programs and improvisation workshops at high schools and colleges.
In March 2008, Babik performed a concert of its music with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The band is now orchestrating a new program to perform with symphonies across America.
Buffalo Spree Magazine best expressed the spirit of Babik in a recent feature story: “It’s hard not to fall in love with a band whose every tune seems to state, ‘We love life and we want to celebrate it.'”
Mark your calendars now for what promises to be one of the Westcott Theater’s best concerts of the year on June 20. To get psyched, visit babikjazz.com.
Five hot hommes
The personnel of the Quintette du Hot Club de France was St (c)phane Grappelli (violin), Django Reinhardt, Joseph Reinhardt, Pierre Ferret (guitars), Lucien Simoens (bass), Freddy Taylor (vocals).