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The best kept secret in music


"“Hot Nights: L’Absynthe is Boulder’s new gypsy jazz outpost”"

It’s a warm Thursday night and the crowd at L’Absynthe Restaurant & Bar in downtown Boulder has started to pack the place. Red velvet drapes frame the band RUE, sitting only inches away from restaurant patrons. Whistles and claps come from every direction, inside and outside the bar and as the accordion player leads the band into a jumpy rendition of “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” someone from the back of the crowd yells, jokingly, “Faster!”
It’s another cabaret night at L’Absynthe, where the French ambience and RUE’s Django Reinhardt-style “gypsy jazz” transport visitors to another era every Thursday and Friday night. “We added cabaret night to give the restaurant a special feeling,” said Ricardo Tondowski, L’Absynthe’s general manager. “The music is really outstanding because it is so different.”
Don Yaffe, RUE’s guitarist, helped create cabaret night. He said Boulder’s jazz scene was limited. “Boulder needed an upscale jazz venue right downtown, somewhere bands would be proud to bring their fans,” Yaffe said. Since the closing of local jazz hub Trios Grille and Wine Bar in late 2003, Boulder music scene has been short of full-time live jazz venues.
Gypsy jazz- or hot jazz- originated in the 1930s when European musicians Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli formed the Quintet of the Hot Club. The upbeat, energetic sound is driven by string instruments such as guitars, violins and the stand-up bass instead of drums. Much of this music was inspired by American musicians such as Louis Armstrong.
RUE spent the summer playing free concerts for Pearl Street Mall patrons, trying to introduce Boulder locals to their music. Yaffe said the band received positive responses.
“People would hear what we were playing and stop in their tracks,” Yaffe said. “It’s only a matter of time before this music gets into the public’s consciousness.”
Boulder resident Tina Scala has seen the band perform twice, and she said RUE’s gypsy jazz is a rare musical experience. “In Boulder you see so many musicians, but rarely do you see something fresh and new,” Scala said. “It adds depth in ethnic color that this area is lacking.”
Yaffe hopes cabaret night will not only booster Boulder’s awareness of gypsy jazz, but he also said he thinks events like this will help support all kind of jazz musicians. Yaffe compared the form of music that influenced RUE to more mainstream pop music. “Candy is great, but every once in a while a person needs a meal: that’s where jazz and classical music come in,” Yaffe said.
Boulder resident Karl Kassler has seen RUE numerous times and said the band’s music, combined with the venue, L’Absynthe, is reminiscent of the music style’s origins. “It’s like going back 80 years, and this is one of the only places to find this in the Denver/Boulder area, “Kassler said.
- By Sarah Suzor, Boulder Daily Camera September 15, 2005


No CD available at this time. RUE has three studio tracks available for promotional purposes.


Feeling a bit camera shy


In an irresistible blend of gypsy guitars, accordion, bass, clarinet and vocals, RUE’s rowdy and captivating jazz manouche creates a classic atmosphere of hot swing from the 1930’s and 40’s. Inspired by and dedicated to the music of Django Reinhardt and his Hot Club de France, guitarist Don Yaffe and bassist Brian Schey founded RUE in early 2005. With much critical acclaim from listeners across the greater Denver area, RUE continues to enchant audiences with the percussive drive and nostalgic charm of their hot gypsy jazz.

Don Yaffe studied guitar in Chicago with former Hollywood session-man Milt Norman and has played with numerous jazz and rock groups in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Denver over the last thirty years. Brian Schey, Rue's upright bass player, has been playing and producing records for fifteen years and has sixty albums under his belt. Schey graduated from the Berklee College of music in 1992 with a degree in bass, and he then moved to California to study composing and arranging at The Dick Grove School of Music. While in Los Angeles, he played with such acts as Sheryl Crow, Maria McKee, and members of the Counting Crows and The Wallflowers. Dave Willey, who performs on accordion in RUE, is a multi-instrumentalist and self-taught musician. Dave is the founder of the early 21st century folk fusion group Hamster Theatre and recently finished producing a Balkan dance album while continuing his work as a dance accompanist at the University of Colorado. New York native Adam Auriemmo Adam studied music theory and composition at the university level, playing both guitar and trombone in various rock, jam, jazz, Dixie, and experimental bands until joining RUE on guitar in 2005. Erin Niré received her B.A. at Wellesley College where she studied classical voice and piano. Today, after over twenty years of classical and jazz performance, Erin adds her vocals to RUE.