It's common to trace the origins of gypsy jazz to France and, in particular, the work of the guitarist Django Reinhardt and his partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli. Marrying swing to the gypsy folk of previous decades, Reinhardt and Grappelli forged harmonic ground that was both darkly exotic and invitingly danceable.
Still, to listen to it today is to hear similarities to American forms like Dixieland and bluegrass, which also place rhythmic emphasis on beats two and four, while melodic lines twist like strands of DNA above, and harmony lines tug at the heartstrings. Gypsy jazz is that rarest of rare musical forms -- one that is both incredibly sophisticated and easy to love.
Unquestionably, this is a serious art form that requires virtuosity of the first order to perform. Just as unquestionably, Buffalo's own Babik is the genuine article.
In celebration of the stunning new disc "American Gypsy" -- an album comprised almost solely of Babik-penned pieces, Reinhardt's "Douce Ambience" being one of only two exceptions -- Babik takes the stage inside the Tralf (622 Main St.) on Saturday night, with doors opening at 7 p.m.
Violinist Geoff Perry, lead guitarist Stuart Fuchs, bassist Kevin O'Brien and rhythm guitarist Joshua Assad make up one of the most musically ambitious bands to emerge from Buffalo in decades, and the concert stage is this quartet's natural environment.
Check out "American Gypsy" at www.babikjazz.com; tickets to the release party are available through Ticketmaster.
-- Jeff Miers