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. Their second CD “44070” presents compositions inspired by social justice, and lyrical songs both catchy and radio-ready. Can a band play timeless music that speaks to your soul and makes you tap your feet? The answer is “yes” and it is Occidental Gypsy’s latest CD “44070.”
Hailing from New England, Occidental Gypsy plays a dynamic, multi-genre mix of original vocal and instrumental pieces. They are a nationally touring acoustic act championed by critics and fans. “OG” has played to packed houses at the legendary Nighttown in Cleveland, Green Mill in Chicago, Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, World Cafe Live, Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, The Ark in Ann Arbor, the Blue Wisp in Cincinnati and many others.
Occidental Gypsy has shared the stage with greats like Rikki Lee Jones, Jorma Kaukenen, Stanley Jordan, Joe Sample, and David Bromberg, who also said, “These guys have great singing, fantastic guitar and violin work, and high energy originals that leave the crowd crazy. An awesome band.”
More about Occidental Gypsy
Well known as capable heirs and nouveau pioneers of the music of Django Reinhardt, Occidental Gypsy has been featured the biggest DjangoFests in the US. Band members have also participated in side projects that have brought them around the world alongside legends, like the 25 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 blues, a seismic swing experience, and “a whole lotta’ gypsified groove…”
Band Member Spotlight
Eli Bishop – violin
Violinist Eli Bishop began his musical studies with the violin at the age of three. Over the years he continued his musical education at the Vanderbilt Blair School of Music in Nashville and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. His studies of various musical styles–including classical, western swing, rock, country, and jazz– provided him with the opportunity to perform with a wide variety of musical artists ranging from Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers, to the Wooten brothers, to Bill Evans of the Miles Davis Group and Wynton Marsalis. In 2013, Eli placed in top ten at the Mississippi Grand Master Fiddler Championship. In 2014, he won the Mississippi Bluegrass Championships, best senior fiddle. In 2016 Eli was awarded a Guinness World Record for being the world’s fastest clapper, a talent that clearly informs his stellar and lively violin. See him featured on this viral video with over 2 million views.
Jeremy Frantz – guitar and vocals
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Jeremy will be earning his Masters of Music in Guitar Performance in Spring 2015 from Duquesne University, where he studies extensively with legendary jazz guitarist Joe Negri. His background and performance history includes powerful jazz guitar with sultry and smooth vocals reminiscent of the bygone era of swing. Jeremy is the most recent addition to the band, and brings a straight-ahead jazz sensibility and tight playing that serves as a fantastic counterpoint to the wildly driving gypsy rhythms. More here.
‘Mr. Feldman began to reveal his mastery on the guitar, cajoling and coaxing a symphony of sound from the instrument he so clearly held jurisdiction over.’ – Concert Review by Near North
Feldman is one of the founding members of Occidental Gypsy, and plays and learns music in the true gypsy tradition: by ear. When Feldman first heard Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club Jazz, a passionate love affair with this spirited music (and it can be argued, the gypsy lifestyle) began. Within the band, his talent for composing and arranging this complex music is showcased in a number of original works. In a recent concert review, N. North writes: “One of the many highlights came before a song when Mr. Feldman spoke of a number he had written and dedicated to the memory of Rudolf Vrda an Auschwitz escapee whose reporting of the atrocities occurring in the camp led to an end to Hungarian deportation of Jews to Germany saving some 200,000 lives.
The tune was rather remarkable with a performance that wove it seamlessly into the story and Mr. Feldman’s intro also led this listener to a little research on the man who inspired the effort, a man deserving of innumerable accolades for his courage and fortitude.”