Occidental Gypsy Swings the Green Mill in Chicago: Review by Chicago Tribune July 25, 2015
Photo credit: Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune {hot-linked image}

“…the musicians of Occidental Gypsy emerged as classicists, above all celebrating the optimistic spirit that made Reinhardt-Grappelli an antidote to the tough times of pre-World War II Europe (and beyond)… the music-making – proved carefully considered and nimbly delivered.

The heart and soul of this band were wrapped up in the work of violinist Eli Bishop… whose silken legato phrases, impeccable pitch and seemingly effortless technique in fast-moving passages represented the best of Occidental Gypsy’s work and made him the focus of attention whenever he played. Bishop’s deep-amber tone and rhapsodic way with a phrase suited the tune and elegantly rode the pulsing rhythmic backdrop of the band.

… there were sonic pleasures to be had, particularly in an energetic, gypsy-jazz transformation of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” which opened the evening. More than once, vocalist-guitarist Frantz brought the large crowd to near silence through the warmth and openness of his singing, as in “Georgia on My Mind.” Others may command bigger, brighter voices, but the heartfelt quality and reedy tone of Frantz’s singing disarmed listeners.  READ FULL REVIEW