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Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Jazz Folk




"A direct cross between Django Reinhardt and Mumford and Sons..."

lePercolateur –"They call themselves “Hipster Gypsy Jazz,” but a more apropos way to describe them might be to call them a direct cross between Django Reinhardt and Mumford and Sons. All acoustic, and probably the most retro band on this list, this is more suited to a night sipping martinis than getting down on the dance floor. That said, their latest disc, Pop Manouche, is a great listen, and it doesn’t sound exactly like anything else in your collection." - Paul Abella, The Barn Presents (Jan 14, 2014)

"Something different and exciting is brewing on lePercolateur's Pop Manouche..."

Something different and exciting is brewing on lePercolateur's Pop Manouche. This Chicago-based, Hot Club-indebted outfit finds a way to blend the sonic sensibilities of Django Reinhardt's famed band into an alt- pop/alt-folk/alt-instrumental format on their debut album, creating something unique in the process; it's as if songstress Sam Phillips, the beyond-category Pink Martini, indie folk band Hem, Reinhardt, and a few other unlikely collaborators got together to make some music.

The core instrumentation—violin, multiple guitars and bass—immediately points to the gypsy in lePercolateur's soul. Some energetic tunes with upbeat guitar accents and feisty violin work confirm this connection and fly by in fun fashion ("Bad Crazy Day"), but nothing flies too close to the gypsy jazz norm; the songs themselves and the presence of vocalist Candace Washburn, who injects a good amount of the "pop" into Pop Manouche, make sure of that. Middle Eastern-leaning music with a surfer undercurrent ("Two Weeks"), shuffling country-blues-pop hybrids ("Darling"), haunting instrumental meditations ("Oscura") and a whole lot more surface during this eleven song program.

While lePercolateur itself is a five person band, several guests stop by to beef-up the line-up and add some different flavors to the music. Three horn players—trumpeter Corey Wilkes, tenor saxophonist Shawn Maxwell and trombonist Adam Thornburg—tangle during a harmonious polyphonic solo spree on "Nothing Special," Bryan Pardo's clarinet sets the scene for "Two Weeks," which also benefits from some basic tambourine backing from Stephen Lynerd, and a third guitarist—Gabriel Datcu—drops in for a couple numbers; all parties help lePercolateur expand its aural outlook.

Pop Manouche presents a band that drinks from the Quintette du Hot Club de France's well, yet finds sustenance in other musical realms. This stylistic openness contributes to the success of the hybridized music that lePercolateur produces.

Track Listing: Bad Crazy Day; Nothing Special; Dancing In The Kitchen; All I Want Is You; Two Weeks; Goin' Out; Waiting For The End Of The World; Open Up The Door; Darling; Oscura; House.

Personnel: Marielle de Rocca-Serra: violin; Stacy McMichael: bass; Sam Random: guitar; Kevin Rush: guitar; Candace Washburn: vocals; Corey Wilkes: trumpet (2); Shawn Maxwell: tenor saxophone (2); Adam Thornburg: trombone (2); Bryan Pardo: clarionet (5); Stephen Lynerd: tambourine; Gabriel Datcu: guitar (5, 10).

Record Label: Chicago Sessions - Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz (allaboutjazz.com) (Jul 26, 2013)

"The nuanced manner in which pop and folk styles are interlaced remind one of the fine work of Mumford & Sons.."

Pop Manouche is the second recording by the Chicago gypsy jazz band, Le Percolateur. The promising recording features the central quintet playing all original compositions with many musically enticing guests on various tracks. All of the deeply romantic lyrics were penned by the quintet’s talented guitarist, Sam Random. Meanwhile, Random, Marielle de Rocca-Serra, Stacy McMichael, and Kevin Rush all share composition credits.

Candace Washburn easily evokes the heart-on-sleeve overtones of Random’s lyrics with her bright, attractive voice. Washburn’s smoky tone and burnished vibrato are particularly effective on the whimsical “Dancing in the Kitchen,” and the melancholy “All I Want Is You.”

Random and Kevin Rush ably share guitar duties while bassist Stacy McMichael (who, with Nick Eipers, is responsible for the outstanding production of this recording) is a terrific accompanist, with her razor sharp lines and brilliant bass tone. Violinist Marielle de Rocca-Serra, meanwhile, has gypsy jazz oozing from her supple phrases. Shawn Maxwell and Corey Wilkes make wonderful additions on “Nothing Special,” evoking a late night café jam session. Meanwhile, Bryan Pardo (of Swing Hakim fame), Gabriel Datcu, Adam Thornburg, and Stephen Lynerd layer “Two Weeks” with a hip Middle-Eastern groove.

The jewel in the crown is “House,” which layers a wonderful pop-influenced vocal melody with a remarkably catchy bass line. Additionally, the production of this track is magnificent with terrific, well-placed violin and vocal overdubs, giving the impression of a string section and background vocals. The nuanced manner in which pop and folk styles are interlaced remind one of the fine work of Mumford & Sons. With ace production and a wonderful group dynamic, one can only hope that there are many more recordings to come from Le Percolateur. - Dan Healy, Chicago Jazz Magazine (May 01, 2013)

"As musically interesting as it is rhythmically infectious..."

The influence of the Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt continues to be felt now sixty years after his death. The first jazz player to develop a distinctly European style, Reinhardt, his long-time collaborator violinist Stephane Grappelli, and their group the Quintet of the Hot Club of France made very swinging music without drums and used multiple acoustic guitars as the rhythm instruments. Reinhardt played the lead acoustic guitar, famously with only three fingers of his left hand after a childhood injury badly burned the other two.

Reinhardt died in 1953, during the period of ascendancy of bebop, so his style faded from the jazz world for a while, but in recent years has made a strong comeback. Numerous groups and artists have taken up the style, including the Hot Club of Detroit, Frank Vignola, and a group called Pearl Django. In the late 1970s, mandolinist David Grisman collaborated with violinist Grappelli, and using the instrumentation of bluegrass launched the whole New Acoustic movement which often borrowed from the swinging acoustic style of Reinhardt.

Now more recently, some pop groups are drawing on the influence, with the jazzy acoustic guitar and violin sound as an inspiration for some interesting hybrids. There was a group called the Lost Fingers, a reference to Reinhardt's famous disability, who did amusing versions of 1980s pop tunes, including techno and punk rock songs in the Django style.

This week, we have the debut album by a Chicago-based group called Le Percolateur, whose new CD is called Pop Manouche. Manouche being a slightly pejorative French word for Gypsy, or the Romani people. And Le Percolateur provides a logical musical combination which, oddly, has rarely been heard before, a Chanteuse style female vocalist with the Django-influenced group. The result is a lot of fun.

Le Percolateur was founded by three women, violinist Marielle de Rocca-Serra, bassist Stacy McMichael and vocalist Candace Washburn. According to their publicity bio, one night the three were playing in an old warehouse when a guitarist named Sam Random was drawn in by hearing the music, and he soon joined the group. With the addition of other guitarist Kevin Rush the quintet who appear on this CD took shape. And unlike most other Django Reinhardt style groups who usually do jazz standards or other cover tunes, Le Percolateur performs all original material on their CD. And the band's influences run wide. They do the expected jazzy music that can evoke 1930s French cabaret, the band also creates tune in a style more typical of a rock band, and they can sometimes get a little ethereal. So the album is as musically interesting as it is rhythmically infectious. It's also lyrically clever much of the time. Vocalist Candace Washburn is a real asset to the group. She is very American, rather than sounding like a French chanteuse but she proves to be quite versatile as well. The band has a number of guests on the album, including a bunch of horns, and occasionally, the group breaks a taboo on the style and includes some electric guitars.

The 50-minute-long, 11-track CD begins with one of their compositions that could have been a rock song. Bad Crazy Day has the a kind of rock energy level and lyrical style. The track shows the high level of musicianship by the band and the appealing vocals of Ms. Washburn. >

Another original composition whose style of writing could have come from well outside the jazz world is called Nothing Special. The track featured the guest horn players. >

The Django Reinhardt style is known for being fast and swinging. But Le Percolateur includes some slow ballads. All I Want is You is a pretty waltz that is nicely handled by the group. >

There are two instrumentals on the CD, both of which are rather stylistic eclectic. A piece called Two Weeks conjures Middle Eastern sounds, and is a nice fit for the group's instrumentation. >

Candace Washburn's vocals can be impressive. A song that highlights her singing, as well as one that actually evokes the Gypsy jazz style, is called Goin' Out. >

Waiting for the End of the World features some electric guitar and is reminiscent of the style of Les Paul and Mary Ford, though they never used a fiddle. >

Another of the album's highlights is a piece called Open Up the Door which also features a strong performance by Ms. Washburn. It's an interesting hybrid of styles, with some theatrical or cabaret influences with the jazz swing. > Violinist Marielle de Rocca-Serra gets a solo feature. >

The CD ends with its lengthiest piece, House which features a continually evolving pastiche of styles that allows the group to show off some of its various facets. > Through some overdubbing is a kind string section > as well as an a cappella segment with multiple voices performed by Ms Washburn. >

Pop Manouche the debut full-length album by the Chicago-based group Le Percolateur is an impressive and fun album that continues the revived interest in the style of Django Reinhardt and adds a strong streak of musical eclecticism. The quintet perform original music and make it that way, rather than trying to be authentic revivalists. Vocalist Candace Washburn is part cabaret singer, part pop singer and a bit of a rocker under the surface, and she can match the band's instrumental eclecticism. The rest of the players are first-rate as well. It's also not often that one has a group playing in this style that has three women as members.

Our grade for sound quality is an "A-Minus." The acoustic instruments are well-recorded and have a nice warm sound. But Ms. Washburn's vocals sometimes have more studio effects than this kind of music calls for.

Le Percolateur has emerged as a first rate group that offers something different and an original twist to Gypsy jazz revival, sixty years after the passing of Django Reinhardt. - George Graham, WVIA fm (NPR) - George Graham (May 29, 2013)

"Perfect music for steppin’ out with your babe..."

Le Percolateur is a five piece band with Candace Washburn handling the vocals along with a Semi-Hot Club Of France styled team of Marielle de Rocca-Serra/vio, Stacy McMichael/b, Sam Random and Kevin Rush/g and a series of guest reed and rhythm soloists. Hot stomping “Bad Crazy Day” and “Waiting for the End of the World” feature Washburn’s earthy delivery awhile the team cooks on Bunsen burners on”Dancing in the Kitchen” and “Goin’ Out.” Perfect music for steppin’ out with your babe. - George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly (Aug 01, 2013)

"Sly and Surprising..."

"a sly and surprising gypsy-jazz quintet who apply that idiom to modernistic pop tunes, as well as vintage jazz compositions" - Neil Tesser, Examiner.com (Jan 12, 2012)

"Put on the disc and listen... highly recommended"

lePercolateur – Pop Manouche
(Chicago Sessions)
Released – March, 2013

The publicity material that came with this disc goes to great lengths to paint a picture of a mid-30s gypsy camp, all mysterious and beguiling, with figures appearing out of the misty dark.

It should just say, “…put on the disc and listen.”

Candace Washburn fronts the group through eleven original compositions so good I swear I’ve heard some of them, and sung along, before. She’s able to able to grab that current just-a-little-edgy Adele vibe (“Bad Crazy Day”) just as easily as a tender ballad (“All I Want Is You.”)

And while it’s gypsy jazz, it’s not the same old bunch of tunes you’ve been hearing since the 30s. Guitar guy Sam Random writes the lyrics, and those universal themes that make a tune a standard are all there – never more so than on my favorite from the disc, “Darling”:

Though I cry out and curse your name
You know that I could never leave you
Tell me what you will, just say that you’ll remain
I’ll promise to always believe you.

It would be easy for lyrics this smart, and a band this talented to weave into camp, but they keep it straight, and Ms. Washburn sells it all with nary a wink, which only seals the deal for me. Marielle de Rocca-Serra nails the gypsy violin; it’s clear from the mix that Stacy McMichael is on bass and co-produces, Kevin Rush shares guitar duties with Mr. Random, and rounds out the basic group.

I’ll need another fix soon, guys. Don’t wait too long.

This disc is highly recommended. - Doug Boynton, Girlsingers.org (May 26, 2013)

"Chicago's favorite hipster gypsy-jazz combo..."

Is it time for you to get a little wild? Put on that red lipstick, those strappy sandals, and swingy skirt-come out and let your hair down at the Tonic Room, 2447 N Halsted Street, tomorrow night at 8 PM. Yes. Another Sunday night of live music. This is something different.

LePercolateur, Chicago's favorite hipster gypsy-jazz combo, begins their new open engagement at Lincoln Park's popular music venue, the Tonic Room.They will be hosting 'Gypsy Night' on the first Sunday of every month from 8 PM - 12:30 AM.

Cover: $7.

For more information about LePercolateur: http://www.lepercolate...

Like a lot of bars in the city, the Tonic Room www.tonicroom.com is a bar with history. Originally a barbershop/bootlegging joint during prohibition, it was a haven for a shady group of hippies in the sixties, and has had ties with the Irish Mafia. Mentioned in the book "Weird Chicago", by Troy Taylor, Adam Selzer,and Ken Melvoin-Berg, it is said to be haunted, and there is a walled-off tunnel in the basement that goes under the street.

An intimate neighborhood bar with history- wild gypsy music-violins-maybe, a ghost or two-Priceless. - Bonnie Jean Adams, Examiner.com (Apr 03, 2010)


Mar 26, 2013: "Pop Manouche" LP released on Chicago Sessions record label.



As the railyard bled into dark warehouses, the stranger found himself alone. Street after street he walked with night taking control of his senses until his ears perked at the music of sirens. The dulcet tones of violin, bass, and the female voice spiraled through the darkness from the sole source of warmth in sight. Helplessly drawn in, he found the last lit trailer in camp that seemed to have sprung forth from another time, and there--in the form of three women--was both the past and the future in one.

He introduced himself as Sam Random and explained that his path and his name were inextricably linked. Sensing a kindred spirit, they proffered their names: Marielle de Rocca-Serra held the violin, Stacy McMichael propped up the bass fiddle, and it was Candace Washburn's voice that had beckoned him. As Sam sat at their fire and opened up his tattered guitar case, another man, his elder, stepped forth from the darkness having been drawn in from afar. Armed too with a guitar, he announced himself as Kevin Rush and sat with no concern as to whether he'd been invited - simply knowing he was home. Fueled by coffee black as the night they found themselves in and so dark it could have been wartime, they played through 'til the sun began painting the eastern horizon red.

Winding their caravan through the windiest of cities, lePercolateur has spent the time since this fateful night sweeping in to transport concert-goers to a time where music was a liberating and cathartic respite from persecution--where the frenetic energy of struggling to simply 'be' coalesced with the unbridled spirit of gypsy music and burgeoned into swing dancing. The troupe has transforms the Green Mill, Andy's Jazz Club, Untitled, Jazz Showcase, Mayne Stage and Katerina's into a sold-out Parisian dance hall circa 1937 on a monthly basis. Their high-energy sideshow has made Percolateers of attendees of the Lakeview Art Festival, Deer Creek Jazz Festival, Jazz Institute of Chicago's 2011 Jazz Tour, the 2010 & 2011 Chicago Cultural Center's "Music Without Borders" series, and Purdue University's Swing Dance. They were Featured Artists in both 2009 and 2011 in the Windy City Lindy Exchange, during which they flaunted their uncanny ability to seamlessly fuse two different eras via their reinterpretations of modern pop through the medium of hipster gypsy jazz.

lePercolateur released their debut album March 2013, and thus became latest band to join the Chicago Sessions record label.  Audience members are sure to wake from a dreamlike daze wondering in which year they find themselves, and wishing it was what their senses told them.

Band Members