Wednesday's Pick: Gaucho and Michael Abraham Jazz Session

Categories: What to Do
Photo by Peter Varshavsky
Michael Abraham Jazz Session
8 p.m., free

The term "gaucho" commonly refers to nomadic South American cowboys, which is pretty indicative of how the San Francisco band Gaucho plays its version of Gypsy jazz: in Gaucho's hands, le jazz manouche is left playfully unchained to the genre's European historical foundations, allowing the music to ramble and roam beyond the typically defined borders of Djangoslavia. Of course, Gaucho nails down the genre's staple sounds -- e.g., the rhythmic, pumping, almost percussive guitar chordings -- but Gaucho's universe is expansive enough that Django Reinhardt is not the only star illuminating its nocturnal wanderings. For example, on the 2009 album Deep Night, Gaucho opens the Hot Club's walls to encompass Tin Pan Alley, New Orleans riverboat swing, and loose blues influences, while its regular Wednesday gig at Amnesia is anything but a staid lesson in Gypsy jazz history. These Mission District regulars (bandleader/guitarist Dave Ricketts, accordionist Rob Reich, reedsman Ralph Carney, et al) always keep the proceedings free and easy. It's easy to imagine Django's own vagabond ghost smiling down in approval. 

Gaucho plays every Wednesday night at Amnesia. This week they are also playing at the de Young Museum on Friday, Sept. 3, while the group's new CD, Pearl, is scheduled to be released October 19 on Porto Franco Records.

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