John Jorgenson Quintet Plays Gypsy Jazz at AMSDConcerts

| January 1, 2013 | 1 Comment

Grammy winner John Jorgenson and his Quintet enthrall audiences with original and classic “gypsy jazz,” the dynamic string-driven swing created by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the 1930s. Your chance to experience the dynamic interplay of Jorgenson and his band will be at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, January 26 at AMSDConcerts in Normal Heights. Tickets are $22 for reserved seating and $47 for the dinner package, with seats in the first eight rows. Jorgenson himself says that AMSD is “a great venue, of all the places in that area, this works the best, it’s a good vibe, very intimate, not cramped and the music really goes over well.”

The John Jorgenson Quintet features guitarist John Jorgenson, a founding member of the Desert Rose Band, the Hellecasters, and six-year member of Elton John’s band, (this, after initially being asked to play an 18-month tour).  From an auspicious start as a Disneyland musician, where he played seven sets a day, six days a week, in three styles of bands with different costumes but the same members, Jorgenson quickly became a guitarist that artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Bonnie Raitt to Earl Scruggs have sought out.

John Jorgenson performs on Saturday, January 26.

Jorgenson was chosen to portray the legendary Django Reinhardt in the feature film “Head in the Clouds,” and is known worldwide as one of the pioneers of the American gypsy jazz movement. He has performed as a solo artist as well as collaborated with other musicians all over the world. His articles and lessons on gypsy jazz have appeared in prominent guitar magazines and he has given master classes around the country.

Jorgenson also has his name on guitars from Fender, Takamine, G&L, Gitane, and others. He works closely with the makers in the design of his signature guitars. Fender’s is called the “Hellecaster,” after the name of Jorgenson’s band.

“We were three Telecaster players who did everything you could do with a Tele,” says Jorgenson. “We used to say we ‘played the hell out of our Telecasters,’ and that’s where the name ‘Hellecaster” came from. It was never conceived that the Hellecasters would be a full or long time thing,” he adds, yet they went on to win Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year from Guitar Player Magazine.

At a John Jorgenson Quintet performance, audiences are amazed by John’s dazzling guitar work as well as his mastery as a clarinet player and vocalist. Whether playing his own compositions or classic standards, Jorgenson and his band make music that is romantic and ecstatic, played with virtuosity and soul. But don’t just take my word for it. Former Byrds member Roger McGuinn (yes, that’s Roger McGuinn from the Dylan line “pick up your money, pack up your tent, McGuinn, you ain’t a-goin’ nowhere”) told me “John Jorgensen is one of my favorite musicians.

He played multiple instruments beautifully on my “Back from Rio” CD and before that played bass on a Byrds track for the Byrds boxed set. I remember that David Crosby and Chris Hillman had left the studio and John Jorgensen, Stan Lynch [Tom Petty’s drummer for 20 years] and I recorded “Love That Never Dies” as a single. It did very well on theJohn Jorgensen, Stan Lynch [Tom Petty’s drummer for 20 years. John, Stan and I were the Byrds on that record!” Add to that the words of Byrd’s member Chris Hillman, who said “John is quite possibly the finest musician I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He makes me reach for it and is what I like to refer to as a giving musician in that he makes me and I’m sure many others very comfortable in any musical environment. He’s a true friend and gentleman.”

Lastly, Will Ray, a former member of the Hellecasters recalls how Jorgenson made him strive higher: “Playing with John,” said Ray, “always keeps you on your toes in the Hellecasters. You can’t afford to sit on your laurels or coast along; otherwise you’ll get left in the dust.” You just don’t get endorsements any better than these.

You also will want to treat yourself to the Feb. 9 AMSD show with Spider John Koerner, a bona fide legend, one of the first rank of folk/blues revivalists at the very beginning of the 1960’s who famously mentored a very young Robert Zimmerman while he was in the early stages of inventing the entity known as Bob Dylan. You can reserve tickets for both shows at

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Entertainment, Music

About the Author ()