A night of elemental jazz by Hot Club Faux Gitane


David Wells, Billy Gay, Eric Johnson, Francesca Bavaro, Gary Williams and John Ady of Hot Club Faux Gitane will perform at the Capistrano Concert Hall Sept. 30. (Courtesy of Hot Club Faux Gitane)

Eva Hoch

Sacramento State’s music literature professor and bassoon artist David Wells will take over the Capistrano Concert Hall Friday, Sept. 30, with his Modesto-based sextet Hot Club Faux Gitane for a night of 1930s gypsy swing jazz.

Wells, who has been playing the bassoon for 20 years, became part of this band by responding to a Craigslist ad posted by the three original members.

After five years together, Hot Club Faux Gitane now consists of Wells, bassist John Ady, guitarists Billy Gay and Eric Johnson, clarinetist and mandolinist Gary Williams, and vocalist Francesca Bavaro, who officially joined the band after she and the other five members opened for Jay Leno’s stand up shows at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto last fall.

Hot Club Faux Gitane“I gravitated towards low instruments,” Wells said. “The bassoon fulfilled two roles: a more rare and different instrument, and I liked the sound of it.”

He also said that the band wanted more variation and every member knows that the audience often likes and expects to be able to connect with lyrics.

Since there is no drummer, Wells said onlookers may sometimes think that the Hot Club Faux Gitane is missing an important sense of dynamism, but the band’s rhythmic drive comes more from the bass, mandolin and guitar that takes over the percussionist role.

“I have had to go back to basics to assimilate the rhythm style, but when you get it right the sound is so driving that you don’t miss drums,” guitarist Johnson said. “In this style, a good rhythm player is as valued as a hotshot soloist.”

The name Hot Club Faux Gitane, or Hot Club of Fake Gypsies, comes from the once popular clubs of its creator Django Reinhardt, who hosted this style of jazz and gypsy swing in the many dance halls of Paris in the 1930s – a period when American jazz was being introduced to the “City of Light”.

“Some of what we play (is) mixed with more general jazz,” Wells said. “Some members of our group write their own material, and it really is a mixture of these three: gypsy swing jazz, general jazz and their own material.”

For the show, Wells said those three components are what audience should expect to be played.
“I wouldn’t say that the band has changed my life,  however they have raised the quality of it,” bassist Ady said. “This group is one of the best. I get so much more out of a Hot Club gig than a lot of other bands, as far as quality, professionalism, and the personality of the musicians go.”