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Minor Swing (l. to r.): Lorie Gruneisen, violin; Christopher Brown; guitar; Victor Caamano, guitar; David Katz, bass. Photo: Joel Hurd
Minor Swing (l. to r.): Lorie Gruneisen, violin; Christopher Brown; guitar; Victor Caamano, guitar; David Katz, bass. Photo: Joel Hurd

Minor Swing, live in the NCPR studio

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Minor Swing joined Todd Moe in the NCPR studio to give listeners a taste of what they call gypsy jazz, or gypsy swing. The style was pioneered by French Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, who blended American jazz of the '30s and '40s with European Gypsy styles of music.

In this performance they play three pieces: F A Swing (FA for Franco-American), Nuages, a Django Reinhardt standard, and For Sephora, a bossa nova-style composition.

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Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

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Guitarist Christopher Brown said that all the band members had come from different areas of music before they started Minor Swing. Brown and Katz had both played jazz together before and decided to look for other group members. Brown was teaching fellow guitarist Victor Caamano at the time, and then found Lorie Gruneisen to play violin.

To come up with a name, Brown said the band decided to “name ourselves after a song, so we named ourselves after Django [Reinhardt]’s song, Minor Swing.”

Of the gypsy jazz genre Brown said, “It’s a very distinct idiom, it comes out of the music of the aforementioned Django Reinhardt.” He developed a whole style, which blended American jazz and the Gypsy music of his own family background. His style started to evolve throughout Europe after his death in 1953. Later, it found its way to the United States.

A key feature that separates gypsy jazz from regular jazz is that “a lot of it is in minor keys, or has a minor feel. Rather than the bluesy kind of feel that you might find in more typical American Jazz,” added bassist David Katz.

The first song, F A Swing, played by the band was written by John Jorgenson, who has played in the North Country and has had his music featured on NCPR in the past.

Minor Swing will be playing at Maxfields in Potsdam on December 7, in Saranac Lake on New Years Eve, and possibly at the Blackbird Café in Canton at the end of December.

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