Jazz sprung from the commingling of African and European cultures in the "New World," America. In the "Old World," Europe, jazz was imported from America via recordings, touring players, and Americans who came to reside in Europe in the teens and 1920s. Then, jazz snobs yes, they had snobs/elitists even then looked down on European jazz musicians as basically capable copiers of Americans. Belgian Guitarist Django Reinhardt changed all that when he emerged in the '30s. He was considered to be the first truly European jazz player, influsing Swing era small-group jazz with his Gypsy/Roma roots. (In some quarters, "gypsy" is not unlike the n-word.) Reinhardt inspired and continues to inspire scores of players worldwide (including Chet Atkins, Larry Coryell, and even the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia).
One band of hepcats named themselves in honor of Django’s most esteemed combo, Quintet du Hot Club de France, the Hot Club of Detroit. But get it straight the Hot Club of Detroit, founded by guitarist Evan Perri, are no not-Django-but-an-incredible-simulation nostalgia trip. True, they play mostly the music of DJ but they treat it as a point of departure rather than a sacred museum piece. On this latest excellent disc Night Town they interpret Miles Davis’ classic "Seven Steps To Heaven," giving it a touch of Balkan briskness while exuding cool-cat bebop élan. Other modern influences are felt (rather than heard) as well. The Hot Club of Detroit has a somewhat unusual configuration: Two guitarists, a bassist, an accordionist, and a saxophonist (doubling on clarinet). You may notice they’ve no drummer with their ebullient approach to rhythm (not to mention a powerfully rhythmic rhythm guitarist), they don’t need one.