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  • WDCH
  • Nov. 16, 2005
  • Leading French and American Jazz Artists Perform as Part of Nine-Day Celebration of the Versatility of the Guitar


    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association celebrates the hot jazz of seminal Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) – whose unique musical legacy has inspired and delighted generations – on Wednesday, November 16, at 8 p.m., at Walt Disney Concert Hall. In the third installment of the LA Phil’s Art of the Guitar Festival, six leading French and American artists – comprising a veritable Hot Club of WDCH – pay homage to their mentor.

    The ensemble includes French musicians Dorado Schmitt, guitar/vocal/violin, a Django Reinhardt devoté since childhood; his son, Samson Schmitt, on lead and rhythm guitar; Ludovic Beier on accordion; and jazz violinist Pierre Blanchard. The line-up also features Americans Tom Scott on saxophone and bassist Brian Torff, who toured extensively with violin virtuoso Stephane Grappelli, who along with Django Reinhardt formed the famed Hot Club of France.

    The Django Reinhardt Festival is the third concert in the nine-day Art of the Guitar Festival, during which the Los Angeles Philharmonic explores the guitar’s many musical personalities, ranging from classical concerto and folk to “le jazz hot.” Other concerts taking place as part of the Festival include the Colburn Celebrity Recital on November 17, with the guitar duo of Sérgio and Odair Assad, and three performances by guitar virtuoso Eliot Fisk with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Marin Alsop, on November 18, November 19, and November 20.

    DORADO SCHMITT, born in France in 1957, was introduced to the guitar and violin at age seven, by his father, who initiated him to the music of Django Reinhardt. In 1978, he formed the Dorado Trio with Gino Reinhardt and Hono Winterstein. Noted for his exceptional technique and improvisational ability, Schmitt is as comfortable in swing and
    gypsy waltz as in Bossa Nova and Flamenco style. After overcoming a terrible car crash in 1988, he re-formed his trio in 1990. In 2000, he was awarded the Euro Django trophy. A year later, Schmitt made his U.S. debut at a Django Reinhardt Festival at New York City’s famed Birdland, and has since performed with such guitarists as Bireli Lagrène, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, and Angelo Debarre, violinist Florin Niculescu, the Ferré brothers, clarinet player Paquito D'Rivera and saxophonist James Carter. Continuing the gypsy tradition, Schmitt has passed on his musical knowledge to his son, SAMSON SCHMITT, a brilliant musician and composer in his own right, who often accompanies his father on stage.

    LUDOVIC BEIER, a young Parisian button accordion whiz, with numerous hit CDs in France, has earned critical acclaim in the American market as well. He has appeared on the cover of music magazines with Paquito D'Rivera, James Carter, and other top jazz artists. One critic notes, “Beier gets the most out of his instrument, both in technique and ideas.”

    American BRIAN TORFF, bassist, composer, educator and author, has been a featured artist in jazz and contemporary music since his professional debut at Carnegie Hall in 1974, the year bassist Milt Hinton offered him the opportunity to tour with Cleo Laine. During the late 1970’s, Torff recorded and performed with pianists Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, among others. He also played in pianist Errol Garner’s last group and has worked in the big band of Oliver Nelson and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. In 1979, Torff joined a duo with pianist George Shearing, with whom he collaborated for three and a half years. They also performed at the White House in 1982 for President Reagan, and their third album won a Grammy for vocalist Mel Tormé. The Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony are among the orchestras that have performed his original scores. He is currently the Music Program Director at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and frequently appears with his band, Thunderstick. He has served as co-chairperson for the music advisory board for the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Critics state virtuoso jazz violinist PIERRE BLANCHARD, born in Saint-Quentin, France in 1956, “swings like mad and has a beautiful sound.” Trained as a classical musician, he became smitten with improvisation and soon began performing with such groups as the String Swing System, the Big Band of Marial Solal, and the Jacques Thollot Quintet. In 1984, he received the “Michel Varlop Violin,” a prestigious prize presented by Stephane Grappelli to top jazz violinists. The following year, he was sent to New York by the French government to compose music for string ensembles. His resultant lyrical and unpredictable compositions lace jazz with the richness of classical harmony and the resonance of a string quartet.

    Los Angeles native TOM SCOTT is a renowned saxophonist composer, arranger, producer, and musical director. The double Grammy Award winner has 25 solo recordings to his credit and has received 12 Grammy nominations. He has been featured as a guest artist on more than 500 recordings with such artists as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Thelonious Monk, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Elton John. He also received considerable acclaim for his contributions as a player and arranger on Joni Mitchell’s Court And Spark, Steely Dan’s Aja and on such hit singles as Paul McCartney’s “Listen To What The Man Said” and Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy.” A prolific composer, Scott’s film credits include Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Stir Crazy, among others. His television composing and conducting credits include the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards. Scott has served as Musical Director for Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and Olivia Newton-John.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music, recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most remarkable places anywhere to experience music — Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the Association’s involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational programs, community concerts and children's programming, ever seeking to provide inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience.


    WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2005 at 8 PM

    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    Django Reinhardt Festival

    Art of the Guitar Festival

    Dorado Schmitt, lead guitar, violin, vocals

    Samson schmitt, lead and rhythm guitar

    LUDOVIC BEIER, accordion

    BRIAN TORFF, bass


    Special guest TOM SCOTT, saxophone

    Tickets ($28-$87) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office, online at, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For all information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Libby Huebner, 562.799.6055; Cathy Williams, 213.972.3689; Photos: 213.972.3034