LHI Live: The Birdseed Salesmen And The Enduring Popularity Of Gypsy Jazz

Feb 28, 2020

Helen Yee, Jay Gavan, and Nathan Tabor of The Birdseed Salesmen, in WMUK's Takeda studio.
Credit Craig Freeman

It's known under many names - "gypsy jazz," "jazz manouche," "hot club," or "Django jazz" - and refers to the popular music of 1930s Parisian clubs and cafés, pioneered by Romani musician Django Reinhardt and others.  The appeal for musicians and listeners alike is a strong as ever - the music is melodic, danceable, humorous, virtuosic and a little subversive. WMUK contributor Craig Freeman spent an hour in WMUK's Takeda studio with Kalamazoo-based  musicians The Birdseed Salesmen:  Helen Yee on violin, Nathan Tabor on lead guitar, and Jay Gavan on rhythm guitar. 

Tabor says the group's name is a reference to the film Sweet And Lowdown, which followed the story of a fictional Django-era guitarist. The Birdseed Salesmen play Reinhardt's own "Nuages," and "Douce Ambiance," Lew Pollack's "Two Cigarettes in the Dark," and "Tchavolo Swing" by Tchavolo Schmidt.

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