The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Entertainment

July 14, 2012

American jazz meets the Gypsy side of pop

WILLIAMSPORT — Occidental Gypsy is pioneering the sound of Gypsy pop. Their mélange of uptempo, high-energy rhythms of Gypsy, melded with the catchy melodic hooks of pop delivers a thrilling auditory experience for listeners.

Occidental Gypsy decided to gypsify Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the band’s debut album. “Over Here,” released in February 2011.

Motif Magazine wrote, “Listeners will surely be all in with Occidental Gypsy’s Over Here” and defined the band as “a terrific and unpretentious fab four.” Check them out when they perform tonight at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport (details below).

In many ways the heart of Gypsy pop embodies the essence and spirit of what jazz was in its infancy: developing, improvising, and arranging, with contemporary music as a foundation.

Occidental Gypsy was originally formed by brothers Brett (lead guitar) and Jeff Feldman (bassist) as a straight-ahead Gypsy jazz quartet. Through the release of “Over Here” and the addition of new members, the band has taken on a far more diverse, sophisticated and eclectic sound. The group is fronted by Berklee trained singer and rhythm guitarist Scott (“Scottie”) Kulman, and supported by two Berklee students: violinist Jakub Trasak from the Czech Republic, and percussionist Francisco Vielma from Venezuela.

Brett and Scottie serendipitously met on a park bench. Scott’s grandmother had approached the guitar-slinging Brett at the same park bench months earlier, speaking highly of her grandson’s musical talent. Scottie introduced Francisco and Jakub to the band.

The band complements original material with gypsified covers. Occidental Gypsy’s approach to pop, jazz, and dance music stems from the influence of Gypsy Swing founders, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli.

The name Occidental Gypsy (Western gypsy) embodies the concept behind Gypsy pop. The group has taken the Gypsy sound that originated in Eastern Europe and brought it “over here” to blend it seamlessly with contemporary American music. Gypsy Swing was created by taking American jazz to the East and blending it with the Gypsy folk tradition. Now almost a century later Occidental Gypsy is bringing the music back home.

If you go:

What: Occidental Gypsy

When: 10 p.m. tonight

Tickets: $3

Where: The Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St., Williamsport

For more information: www.bullfrogbrewery.com, 326-4700 

Download music: www.sonicbids.com/2/EPK/?epk_id=294339#audio

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