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Babik is living Django's dream

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.

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