Gypsy Muse
East Feast
Saturday, September 9, 2017 – 6:45 p.m.

©Brett Delmage, 2017
The joy of Gypsy Muse's music (on stage: Nabil Yaghi (l) and Justin Duhaime (r)) ©Brett Delmage, 2017

A three-year-old will give you an honest response. If they're dancing or listening intently to your music – they like it!

Gypsy Muse's music was a big hit with the younger crowd (and the older, too) when they played a free concert at the East Feast festival early Saturday evening. The duo's brand of gypsy jazz immediately inspired children – from barely toddling to pre-teens – and their parents to start dancing to the music, bouncing happily to its bright rhythms. And around the impromptu dancefloor stood even more people listening.

The duo consists of two local guitarists, Justin Duhaime and Nabil Yaghi. They play gypsy jazz/jazz manouche, inspired by Django Reinhardt and his Quintette du Hot Club de France; Yaghi's guitar, with a small, oval soundhole, is the same design as those used by Reinhardt

Duhaime said the two had been playing together for about a year, and their close, confident rapport confirmed that. Gypsy jazz – particularly when you're frequently shifting the lead as this duo does – is usually fast-paced and not forgiving of mistakes or losing one's place. The music from their guitars fit together into a clean and consistent whole, graciously melodic and infectiously rhythmic.

Their acoustic performance was engaging, with the music's intricate patterns and rapid rhythms dancing out into the street. Most of their pieces were gypsy jazz classics, often written by Reinhardt himself. However, they also gave several jazz standards a jazz manouche gloss and ornamentation – for example, “On Green Dolphin Street”, “Caravan”, and Chick Corea's “Armando's Rhumba”. Near the end, they played a few quieter pieces made famous by Reinhardt, including a gentle version of his ballad, “Nuages”, and “Où es tu, mon amour?”, which Yaghi had transcribed from a recording.

The show was organized by Folkrum as part of the second annual East Feast community festival, which closed two blocks of Beechwood Avenue in New Edinburgh/Vanier on Saturday evening.

The sun set during the duo's show, and the temperature quickly dropped – enough that Duhaime told the audience during “Armando's Rhumba” that his hands were getting stiff from the cold and he wasn't able to play as quickly. Some of the children were bundled off to their homes by parents as well. But even at the end of the duo's hour-plus-set, there were still many enthusiastic listeners dancing and listening to the music – enthralled by the fascination of gypsy jazz.

Set list

  • Coquette
  • Bossa Dorado
  • Donna Lee
  • Segment
  • Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)
  • Minor Blues
  • Caravan
  • Viper's Dream
  • On Green Dolphin Street
  • Cascades
  • Made in France
  • Nuages
  • Armando's Rhumba
  • Où es tu, mon amour?
  • Django's Tiger

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