Vancouver’s Van Django adds gypsy jazz to the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s diamond anniversary season Friday at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

Vancouver’s Van Django adds gypsy jazz to the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s diamond anniversary season Friday at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

Gypsy jazz ready to roll into Vernon

Van Django performs for the North Okanagan Community Concert Association

  • Mar. 19, 2014 6:00 p.m.

JAN WALDON

Special to The Morning Star

“It’s an honour to be part of the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s  back by popular request season – especially when it is such a special anniversary year.”

That’s the unanimous reaction from Van Django, which is back in Vernon to perform for the NOCCA at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday.

In an e-mail interview with three of the four Vancouver-based gypsy-jazz men, they admit music has always been a key factor in their lives.

Over the years, each member has worked with a number of great musicians, enjoyed a wide variety of musical styles and has mastered, to some extent at least, several instruments.

Q: How did you together as a group?

Budge Schachte (guitarist): “Cameron Wilson (violinist) and I discussed starting a band while Cameron was guesting in Gypsalero – a band where Brent and I were playing. That began the trio form, and about a year later, we invited Finn Manniche (guitar and cello) to join us.”

Brent Gubbels (acoustic bass): “I try to align myself with people who I like musically and personally.”

Q: How did you settle on the style of gypsy jazz created during the 1930s by Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, the Quintette du Hot Club de France?

Cameron Wilson (violinist): “I was lucky enough to see Stephane Grappelli live and it was a life-changing experience. It opened my eyes to what was truly possible on the violin.”

Schachte: “My classical guitar mentor played some Hot Club de France recordings and I loved it.  Later, I really caught the bug.”

Gubbels: “I feel this music has a lot of joy and excitement built into it. It appeals to people who don’t normally listen to a lot of jazz. They react more emotionally to this than the current lot of jazz because they understand it and see the happiness in it.”

Q: You have toured most of Canada, been to the States and played overseas as well.  What are some of your most exciting experiences?

Schachte: “I feel the six performances at a jazz and world music festival in Nanjing, China was a standout. We also played for a bunch of students who, later, wanted two of us to play short solo pieces – a first.

“I also enjoyed playing my first symphony concert gig with Tango Paradiso, to sold-out shows with the Victoria Symphony. And we created a symphony show and premiered it (2013) with the Delta Youth Symphony Orchestra. Cameron, Finn, Stephen and I wrote the arrangements. It was fun putting it together.”

Wilson: “Our performances at Djangofest Northwest on Whidbey Island were very enjoyable and the festival was great, hearing all the internationally renowned gypsy jazz artists.”

Gubbels: “I played with Nigel Kennedy once.  He sat in on a gig I was on.  I also played on one Juno award-winning album and several Juno nominated ones.”

Q: What kind of program will you be bringing to Vernon?

Gubbels: “It will be a mixture of standards, originals written by us, favourites of Django and Stephane, plus some medleys of unlikely combinations of style and song.”

Schachte: “The traditional repertoire will be interspersed with compositions by the band including medleys we call Django TV and Fist of Beethoven, which uses Ode to Joy with quotes from rock and jazz.”

Q: What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?

Gubbels: “Most types.”

Wilson: “At the moment, I’m listening to a great bluegrass group that (also) plays classical, pop and jazz. I also have been listening to a lot of Disney film music as my kids are getting into the films and shows at the moment.”

Schachte: “I listen to anything that captures my spirit. My tastes are pretty eclectic. I find myself of two minds: one is the listener and the other is the learner.

“Most of the time the learner wins out and I listen to stuff that I’m wanting to work into my playing.”

Q: What are your future plans?

Schachte and Wilson:  “We’re preparing a Christmas CD and will create a touring show around it. We’re also ready to record our third CD with all our new arrangements and compositions.”

Gubbels: “A new CD. More concerts. World domination, one city at a time.”

Van Django will fill the Vernon Performing Arts Centre with its brand of gypsy jazz at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Individual tickets are $35 for adults, $17.50 for under 18 and $5 for eyeGo students at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.