The Hot Club of Philadelphia was started in 2001 by guitarist Barry Wahrhaftig. They are an acoustic ensemble, dedicated to playing 'Gypsy Jazz.' That's the term used to describe the music pioneered by the legendary original 'Hot Club of France Quintet,' which was led by guitarist Django Reinhardt and Violinist Stephane Grappelli. Django and Grappelli were attempting to do their own version of American 'Hot Jazz,' as played by stars like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. They used acoustic guitars, bass and violin, rather than horns and drums. Grappelli and Django added some French and Gypsy flavor and created a blend of music that is quite popular and accessible. The HCPhilly mixes the original style of the HCOF, along with their own modern influences.
The band performs as a trio, quartet, quintet, etc. There have been some changes in the line up through the years. Bassist Jim Stager has been with the group from the beginning. Joshua Machiz, Alexandre Hiele and Dylan Taylor all perform with the band frequently. Dan Pearce is the 2nd guitarist, and violinist Joseph Arnold is a key part of the group's recordings and shows, and clarinetists Bob Butryn and Paul Butler are also mainstays.
The band features vocalists Phyllis Chapell and Cecilia Ferneborg, and has also collaborated with Denise King. Barry also sings, and he'll add a Sinatra or Nat King Cole standard, in addition to songs of the 20's 30's & 40's.
The group has performed for a wide range of venues, including; The Kimmel Center's PIFA Festival, the area's first 'Diner en Blanc', The World Café Live, Sellersville Theater, WHYY-NPR, Musikfest-Bethlehem, Pastorius Park Summer Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Barnes Foundation & The Phila Museum of Art, to name a few.
Their first CD, 'Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,' 2010 was very well received. Their new release, 'Gypsy Routes', , features guest spots by Howard Alden, Titi Bamberger, Larry McKenna, Phyllis Chapell and Marty Grosz.