Brett Feldman: lead guitar, composer, co-arranger
Eli Bishop: all strings, co-arranger
Jeremy Frantz: lead vocals & rhythm guitar
Jeff Feldman: bass
Jon Chapman: percussion
Occidental Gypsy plays an exhilarating blend of gypsy swing, jazz and world music that enraptures the listener with a complex acoustic sound, burnished by smooth vocals reminiscent of the first era of swing.
Hailing from New England, Occidental Gypsy plays a dynamic, multi-genre mix of original vocal and instrumental pieces. And they’ve been recognized for notable covers like a “gypsyfied” take on Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The Boston Globe has named them a “Best Bet for Weekend Entertainment,” and musician David Bromberg said of the group, “great singing, fantastic guitar and violin work, with high energy originals that leave the crowd crazy. An awesome band.”
Well known as capable heirs and nouveau pioneers of the music of Django Reinhardt, Occidental Gypsy was featured at the 2015 DjangoFest in Mill Valley, California. The band has sold out legendary venues such as Nighttown in Cleveland, as well as offering workshops and shows at the Old Town School of Folk and the GreenMill in Chicago, Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis and The Ark in Ann Arbor, The Triple Door in Seattle and many other notable spots. The band has shared the stage with greats like Rikki Lee Jones, Jorma Kaukenen, Stanley Jordan, Joe Sample, Tony Rice, and David Bromberg. Band members have also participated in side projects that have brought them around the world alongside legends, like the 24 year old Eli Bishop who has played with Wynton Marsalis, and regularly performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The band features Eli Bishop, a Nashville prodigy who recently won 1st Place in the Mississippi Fiddle Championships. Bishop stuns crowds with his lightning-fast and emotional violin. Lead guitarist and composer Brett Feldman drives the sound with masterful gypsy swing guitar. Jeremy Frantz — a protege of legendary jazz guitarist Joe Negri— brings his sultry, “retro” vocals and expert jazz guitar to the front line, and serves as an exquisite counterpoint to the down-and-dirty driving sound brought by Brett. Percussionist Jon Chapman and bassist Jeff Feldman fill out the band’s rich sound and keep crowds moving with beats and complex rhythms that make their audience keep coming back for more.
Occidental Gypsy’s sound is appealing to a wide spectrum of people, and their shows consistently attract enthusiastic audiences at colleges, arts centers, festivals, concert halls and clubs. Their fans include musicians who enjoy the sophisticated compositions and masterful play, but most folks just come to enjoy the music and dance. The band has found a unique beat and brings to every show a dynamic mix of original vocal and instrumental pieces– and a few memorable standards– in fun, exhilarating performances. Occidental Gypsy’s music cannot be easily classified; a bit of jazz, a catchy strain of pop, a seismic swing experience, and “a whole lotta’ gypsified groove…”
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An Occidental Gypsy performance includes so much more than just music. Jeremy, Eli, Brett, Jeff, and Jon are incredibly energetic and charming entertainers who interact with fans on a personal level, and incorporate audience participation into every show. On stage, the dialog between band members is entertaining, to the delight of the audience. Perhaps this is why the Boston Globe recommends an Occidental Gypsy show as a “Weekend Best Bet.”
When Occidental Gypsy decided to gypsify Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the band’s debut album. “Over Here,” released in 2011, they were quick to garner critical acclaim, and have continued to gather rave reviews and full houses during active touring. Motif Magazine wrote, “Listeners will surely be all in with Occidental Gypsy’s Over Here,” and defined the band as “a terrific and unpretentious fab five.”
Occidental Gypsy was originally formed by brothers Brett (lead guitar, composer, arranger) and Jeff Feldman (bassist) as a straight-ahead Gypsy Jazz Quartet. Through the release of Over Here and the addition of new members, the band has taken on a far more diverse, sophisticated, and eclectic sound. The group is fronted by jazz guitarist Jeremy Frantz, and takes the audience to soaring heights by young prodigy violinist Eli Bishop and percussionist Jon Chapman. The band also occasionally taps international talents to join the band on stage like Yuki Nakajima and Jason Anick of the John Jorgenson Quintet.
Live, the band compliments original material with expertly arranged ‘gypsified’ covers. Occidental Gypsy’s unique approach to world, folk, jazz and dance music stems from the influence of Gypsy Swing founders, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli. The band will also be featured at the the June 2015 DjangoFest in Mill Valley, California, having been invited as capable Django “heirs.” The members of the group posses a deep knowledge and reverence for the Gypsy style and feel honored to bring their music to the ears of new audiences. Brett Feldman, the driving force behind the world Gypsy style, stays steeped in the true Gypsy tradition by playing by ear and perfecting the playing for hours each day. Due to their expertise within the Gypsy swing genre, and eclectic world influences that set their songs apart, Occidental Gypsy’s fan base is constantly expanding.
The name Occidental Gypsy (Western Gypsy) embodies the concept behind Gypsy World fusion. The group has taken the Gypsy sound that originated in Eastern Europe and brought it “Over Here” to blend it seamlessly with contemporary American music. Interestingly, Gypsy Swing was created by taking American Jazz to the East and blending it with the Gypsy Folk tradition. Now almost a century later Occidental Gypsy brings the music back home.
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