Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars at The Kennedy Center

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Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars came to The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater last night.

And for a beautiful 80 minutes, the terror of the day vanished, syncopated out of existence by six gifted musicians and composers, and the spirit of Django Reinhardt.

Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars. Photo courtesy of The Howard Theatre.
Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars. Photo courtesy of The Howard Theatre.

With Dorado Schmitt on lead guitar the show began with Schmitt’s composition “Miro Django.” He was accompanied by Doudou Cuillerier on rhythm guitar and Xavier Nikq on bass.

Immediately, a gypsy soul filled the auditorium. And the listening took the mind away.

Soon Ludovic Beier and Pierre Blanchard came on stage, accordion and violin respectively, and when they did words took a holiday.

When the final member of the band took the stage, Dorado Schmitt’s son, Amati, the elder left the stage, along with Beier and Blanchard, and the Kennedy Center audience was treated to the son’s extraordinary gifts, as the trio played two of Amati’s original compositions. Faster finger work you will not see, for any faster and it’s all a blur.

The skill of all six musicians, however, is the signature of the Django All-Stars.

Ludovic Beier’s accordion created sounds that reinvent the instrument. During one of his original compositions, “Sad and Beautiful,” he gave us the accordina, a small hybrid of an instrument somewhere between the accordion and the harmonica, and the piece’s title could not be more appropriate.

The evening was filled with wonderful moments, however, such as when Doudou Cuillerier gave us some fabulously delightful scat singing, with which we were asked to sing along.

Or when Xavier Nikq offered up some improvisational bass, his hands aflutter on the fingerboard.

Or when one of violinist Pierre Blanchard compositions struck staccato on our souls.

And the sheer delight of those 80 minutes won’t fade easily with time.

For an encore these six fabulous musicians from France gave us a moment of silence.

For, yes, with joy still bursting our ears, they brought us back, revived by their rhythms and rifts and improvisational sharing, to remember the horrors of Paris that were taking place even as we listened.

The dead and wounded.

The knowledge of a war that will not end.

They brought us back to love, however, which their music had already inspired us to believe in.

Such a silence is more musically uplifting that any harmony.

Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars had one more show at The Kennedy Center, a little later that evening.

Then they are off to another venue.

Running Time: 80 minutes, with no intermission.

Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival All-Stars played for one-night only on November 13, 2015, at The Kennedy Centers Terrace Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For other jazz events at The Kennedy Center, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or go to their calendar.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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Robert Michael Oliver
Poet, Performer, Theatre Artist, Playwright, Educator, Writer--Robert Michael Oliver, Ph.D., has been involved in the DC arts scene since the 1980s, when he co-founded The Sanctuary Theatre in the old sanctuary of Calvary United Methodist Church. Since those fierce days in Columbia Heights, he has earned his doctorate in theatre from University of Maryland, raised two wonderful children, and seen more theatre as a reviewer over the last two years than he saw in the previous thirty. He now co-directs, along with his wife Elizabeth Bruce, the Sanctuary's Performing Knowledge Project, which organizes a host of writing and performance workshops, plus Mementos: Poetry and Performance for Seniors, a yearly literature-in-performance Fringe Festival show, as well as Performetry--a monthly poetry and prose performance event at DC's community arts & culture center BloomBars.

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