Occidental Gypsy is a nationally touring acoustic act. They have played to sold out crowds at the legendary Nighttown in Cleveland, Green Mill in Chicago, World Cafe Live, and have given workshops and special performances at 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.” Tour • Reviews
“Occidental Gypsy is a crowd pleaser. Jaunty vocals, lots of swing, and evocative violin and guitar interplay make this an act to catch and enjoy. They were a big hit at Djangofest Mill Valley ’15.” – Nicholas Lehr – Executive Promoter of Djangofest Northwest Whidbey Island and Mill Valley California
Don Heckman of the L.A. Times (June 2015): “…results were irresistible, a virtual definition of an era when jazz was often described as “hot” music. Occidental Gypsy’s rhythm section, usually driven by the surging rhythm guitar of Brett Feldman, hit one irresistible rhythmic groove after another, “hot” was the best applicable adjective.” read full review
“As it journeys from venue to venue throughout the United States, Occidental Gypsy, a red-hot, Django Reinhardt-inspired, gypsy swing and fusion band, loves to encourage rapt listeners to get up on their feet and dance to its classically retro yet forever young sounds.” –Hartford Courant, February 2015
Chicago Tribune Jazz Critic Howard Reich (July 2015): “…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
“These guys can really swing! In fact, the first time we had them at Rhythm & Roots, they swung so hard that the crowd demanded that we bring them back the next year. ” – Chuck Wentworth, Producer, Rhythm & Roots Festival
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 won the Mississippi Grand Master Fiddler Championship.
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.
“Last night we featured Occidental Gypsy, on their first West Coast Tour. In the style of Django Reinhardt, their Gypsy Jazz and World music is amazing. We recommend them to any venue and hope to have them back when they come to California again. “ — Michael Adams, Soper-Reese Theatre.
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“Great singing, fantastic guitar and violin work, with high energy originals that left the crowd crazy. An awesome band.” -David Bromberg, Musician
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“…Django has inspired a half-century of brilliant guitarists. In the U.S., Brett Feldman’s band Occidental Gypsy has fused contemporary styles and tunes with gypsy guitar and violin.” -excerpt from “Some Flowers You Can’t Kill” article about Django Reinhardt by Frank Malley
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“A typical Occidental Gypsy concert consists of a mix of original pieces, traditional gypsy jazz from 1930s and ’40s icon Reinhardt, and covers of songs from other genres — the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the theme song from the Harry Potter movies — but with a gypsy jazz spin.
“Gypsy music is reminiscent of a retro period; it has a warm sound and an acoustic instrumentation that is easy on the ear. So anyone who has heard it before is a little nostalgic for the sound and likes us because of that. But we also play with a high energy that appeals to younger ears.” –Boston Globe Article, August 22, 2012
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“Outstanding. I love the energy and harmony and melodies and the lyrics, okay, I just really like this band.” – Dee Perry, WCPN Cleveland “Around Noon”, Radio Interview, July 11, 2012
Hear entire interview here
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The Creative Center is still buzzing from the energy Occidental Gypsy put into it’s set. Trust me when I say, you left those that stayed to hear you with nothing but glowing words about the talent, personality and “feel good” music you performed.