Don Heckman of the LA TIMES says “…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
CHICAGO TRIBUNE says “… 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.” read full review
DJANGOFEST PRODUCER says “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 Producer
HARTFORD COURANT says “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.”
Occidental Gypsy, 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 he was awarded a Guinness World Record for being the world’s fastest clapper, a talent that clearly informs his stellar and lively violin.
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.
Brett Feldman – composer, lead guitar
‘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.”