While there are several bands in town that specialize in gypsy jazz, G & the New Orleans Swinging Gypsies stand apart for two reasons. First, they aren’t genre-rigid. Bandleader and NOCCA grad John Saavedra began the group with the vision of mixing and mingling gypsy jazz style with New Orleans influences and a punk rock edge—kind of like the Jazz Vipers, but with more Django. Second, they’ve got Giselle Anguizola, whose tap dancing adds a percussive flamenco flair. The result is a delightful and truly swinging group.
Swing 17 is their first album in two years and they’ve packed it full with 18 songs. They move from Django classics like “Swing 48,” “Swing 41,” “Viper’s Dream” and “Micro” to ’30s swing hits like “Them There Eyes,” “Stomping at the Savoy” and “Swing! Brother, Swing!” While most of the album’s tunes are standards, “Swing 17” is an original from Saavedra, harkening to Django’s similarly named tunes referencing the year they were composed. The gypsy numbers allow Saavedra to show off his nimble-fingered skills and the swing tunes are a great showcase for the heavy-hitting horn/reed players they’ve brought in including Bruce Brackman, Earl Bonie, Marty Peters, Jack Pritchett and Nick Garrison. The Moten tune “Imagination” is a refreshingly offbeat choice. Giselle’s tapping adds a unique rhythmic supplement to the tunes and the decidedly vintage-sounding vocal style she’s settled into is well-suited to the feeling of the band. It’s an album full of energy and versatility that will make for great dancing music.