The Hot Club of San Francisco has been called “one of the most cohesive and entertaining gypsy swing bands in the United States.”
The group will perform at 8 p.m. April 1 and 2 in the Playhouse Theatre at the McAninch Arts Center on the campus of the College of DuPage at 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn.
For its show Postcards from Gypsyland – which also is the name of its 2005 album – the Hot Club of San Francisco will recreate the swinging beat and sweet melodies of an original 1930s Hot Club de France.
"If they've never heard gypsy jazz, they're in for a life-changing moment," group leader Paul Mehling said. "I find that people usually have a strong reaction to this music. They either like it or they love it."
Mehling said gypsy jazz connects with people because it has "a little something for everyone."
"It's got excitement and bravado for people who need that, it's got romance and sentimentality for people who need that," he said. "It's got mystery, it's got brinkmanship. It pushes all of the emotional buttons."
Mehling started the band in 1989. He started listening to gypsy jazz in grammar school.
"I was listening to this and The Beatles at the same time," Mehling said. "I didn't like rock 'n' roll after The Beatles broke up, so I decided to just listen to jazz. All these years later, it turned out to be a really good idea."
In forming the band, Mehling said he was inspired by the playing of guitarist Django Reinhardt, who died in 1953 in France.
"It's all there," he said. "When you really listen to Django's guitar playing, the guy was playing rock 'n' roll basically, even though he was playing in a swing band. All of the things that you look for in a rock 'n' roll guitar hero, whether it's Eddie Van Halen or Jimi Hendrix or whoever your favorite guitarist is, it's all there in Django's playing. And this goes back to the 1930s."
The band is on a mission to turn more people onto gypsy jazz and jazz in general.
"People hear us and say, 'Wow, I never thought I could like jazz' or 'I don't like jazz, but I like what you guys are doing,'" Mehling said. "We're sort of on this secondary mission to show people that jazz is fun and accessible and easy to understand, and you can tap your foot to it."
Tickets are $45 for theater seating and $48 for table seating, available by calling 630-942-4000 or visiting AtTheMAC.org. The show is presented in partnership with College of DuPage radio station WDCB.