The Hot Club of Philadelphia was started in 2001 by guitarist Barry Wahrhaftig.
They are an acoustic ensemble, dedicated to playing ‘Gypsy Jazz.’ That’s the term used to describe the music pioneered by the legendary original ‘Hot Club of France Quintet,’ which was led by guitarist Django Reinhardt and Violinist Stephane Grappelli. Django and Grappelli were attempting to do their own version of American ‘Hot Jazz,’ as played by artists like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. They used acoustic guitars, bass and violin, rather than horns and drums. Grappelli and Django added some French and Gypsy flavor and created a blend of music that is quite popular and accessible. The HCPhilly mixes the original style of the HCOF, along with their own modern influences.
The band performs as a trio, quartet, quintet, etc. There have been some changes in the line up through the years. Bassist Jim Stager has been with the group from the beginning.
Joshua Machiz & Dylan Taylor also share bass duties. Dan Pearce is the 2nd guitarist, and violinist Joseph Arnold is a key part of the group’s recordings and shows, and clarinetists Bob Butryn and Paul Butler are also mainstays .
The band features vocalists Laura Munich and Phyllis Chapell and they have collaborated with Denise King. Their second CD, ‘Gypsy Routes,’ released in 2015, features Chapell singing pieces like Edith Piaf’s ‘La Foule’ in French, and ‘Cry Me a River’ [in English]. Barry also sings; early jazz pieces like ‘Georgia on My Mind,’
and standards that were done by Sinatra or Nat ‘King’ Cole. Their eclectic mix also includes interpretations of songs by the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
The group has performed for a wide range of venues, including;
The Kimmel Center’s PIFA Festival, the area’s first ‘Diner en Blanc,’ The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Jewish-American History Museum, The World Café Live, Sellersville Theater, WHYY-studios, Musikfest-Bethlehem, Pastorius Park Summer Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Pinelands Jazz Fest, Media ‘Jazz By Night,’ series, Rose Tree Park Summer Concerts, The Barnes Foundation, the Mid-West Gypsy Swing Festival, to name a few.
Their first CD, ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,’ 2010 was very well received, and their new release, ‘Gypsy Routes,’ features guest spots by Howard Alden, Titi Bamberger, Larry McKenna, Phyllis Chapell and Marty Grosz. One of the tracks, Django Reinhardt’s ‘Tears,’ was # 1 on Philly Jazz radio WRTI’s Hot 11 Countdown, in Oct of this 2017, and was on the list for five weeks, [by listener request]. The CD came in at # 11 on WRTI’s end of year Top 100 Countdown. Wahrhaftig was then asked to be interviewed by Susan Lewis for WRTI’s Arts Desk, to talk about Gypsy Jazz.
Link for podcast of the interview, where he also demonstrates some of the guitar style
Used in G.J.- http://wrti.org/post/what-gypsy-jazz
Here are some of the venues that they appear at frequently;
The Paris Bistro; http://www.parisbistro.net
The Vesper Club; http://vesperphilly.com/
The Bookstore/Speakeasy Bethlehem, PA; http://www.bookstorespeakeasy.com/
The Saloon; http://www.saloonrestaurant.net/
Both CDs are available thru iTunes, CD Baby etc,
They are available for concerts and workshops, private parties, swing dances, house concerts, etc.