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Pearl Django Live In The KNKX Studios

Parker Miles Blohm

Pearl Django once again graced our studio for a lively performance that included founding member Guitarist Neil Andersson, now living and working as a painter in California. The group was preparing for a stint at Jazz Alley and gave our studio audience a short preview.

They kicked things off with a lively rendition of “With Friends Like These” written by Tim Lerch and inspired by the song “Just Friends.”  It is the title track to the group’s current release, which also features Andersson.

The next song was what Gray called a “Musette-style waltz” written by Andersson titled “Waltz Ala Cart.” This style harkens back to Parisian music during the 19th century when a bellows-blown bagpipe called a “musette” was played in cafés and bars where patrons danced. 

In bands, the ‘rhythm section’ consists of drummer and bassist but there’s not a percussionist alongside Rick Leppanen who’s played double bass with the group for 20 years.  Char explained the band keeps a percussive nature in part due to the rhythm-guitar work which mimics the sound of the drum’s snare and the guitarist’s disciplined ear.

The group next paid homage to Dick Stein who penned the group’s nickname “The Mighty Engine of Rhythm” by playing that tune written by Gray. David Lange and Gray traded solos on accordion and violin throughout the fun and mysterious sounding tune.

The group agreed that the ‘gypsy-jazz’ style has intriguing-yet-accessible melodies and is really fun to play.  Three of the six-member group was indeed wearing French-style beanie hats. 

The final tune was the title track to the release “Avalon” which was played at an energetic pace and Andersson’s flying fingers flew on an impressive solo. 

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Paige Hansen has been heard on radio station 88.5 KNKX-FM for over 20 years where she’s hosted news & jazz. You can currently hear her hosting jazz weekdays & Sundays. She is also an active musician, writer and singer.