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Gypsy Jazz Part Of First Night Hartford

Special to The Courant

Jazz is America’s melting-pot music. It embodies the ideals of diversity, of many voices, e pluribus unum, equality and creative energy.

Gypsy jazz is the European twist on the American original, taking the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication, the mix of military brightness and dance floor intimacy and hot-wiring it with a festive zip and occasionally mournful touches of laments. Sometimes America has required the good taste of outsiders to tell us that we’ve got going on here is a very good thing worth emulating and preserving.

Taking gypsy jazz as a theme for ushering in the new year, some of the Hartford area’s best jazz musicians will help re-create the sound of Paris in the 1930s. As part of First Night Hartford, Pratt Street will be transformed into a scene of sultry cabarets and proto-cool cafes. If you’ve heard recordings of the way Django Reinhardt’s guitar can approximate the blare of a horn section, or execute dizzying runs up and down the fretboard, you understand that this propulsive party music that is still highly sophisticated and with the right eye-dropper note of sadness befitting the looking back involved on New Year’s Eve.

The 29th annual First Night event will take place Sunday, Dec. 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. 68 Pratt St. will be turned into a bistro of hot jazz. For ticketing information visit firstnighthartford.org.

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