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GRANDE ABSENTE and AIR FRANCE presents The Return of “The Young Lions of Gypsy Jazz” DJANGO REINHARDT NY FESTIVAL June 25 – 30 @ Birdland

GRANDE ABSENTE presents THE DJANGO REINHARDT NY FESTIVAL returns with “THE YOUNG LIONS OF GYPSY JAZZ” headed by the very talented guitarist SAMSON SCHMITT, son of legendary gypsy guitarist/violinist DORADO SCHMITT. “The greatest jazz show in town” says Will Friedwald of The Wall Street Journal. With the immortal Django Reinhardt as its life spring, the 14-year old festival as its central nervous system, the Django festival brings the legendary Gypsy guitarist’s legacy fully into the 21st century. Hot JAZZ at it’s sweetest and meanest with a full palette of Jazz expression on loving display.  The festival is produced by Pat Philips & Ettore Stratta. As SAMSON SCHMITT grew up alongside his dad on the Birdland stage, it was time to move on and break out on his own. He heads the pack with the great Parisien accordionist/accordina player LUDOVIC BEIER on one side and virtuoso violinist PIERRE BLANCHARD on the other. The new addition to the band is the very talented rhythm guitarist DOUDOU CUILLERIER who brings the crowd to its feet when he ‘breaks out into scat singing’.  All from France, one American holds it all together with his swinging bass, Brian Torff. The very talented guitarist KRUNO  from Philadelphia will be a Special Guest. Other top Guest Appearances:  June 25 & 26: Peter Beets/jazz pianist from Holland, 27: David Langlois /washboards, 28:  Anat Cohen /sax&clarinet, 29 & 30: Edmar Castaneda/Jazz harp. It’s a rip-roaring event, now in its 14th year with a new CD just released titled  DJANGO FESTIVAL ALLSTARS on Three’s A Crowd Records.  Each of the artists from France, above mentioned, are part of the recording. Interesting to note, the band exists only ‘for America’, Birdland, and the tours that surround the Festival appearances.  Once over, they  go their separate ways with the exception of Samson and Ludovic who perform together occasionally in France. So it becomes a great reunion on the Birdland stage filled with smiles and joy!  One might call it a lovefest ! Much of the music will be from the new CD, many originals along with well-known Django compositions and standards.  Guitar virtuosity is naturally on display alongside the enormously talented musicians bringing the audience to its feet. Participating sponsors:  VERIZON, RD WRIGHT INC. John and Joan D’Addario Found., John Pearse Strings @ Birdland 315 W. 44th Street Shows:  8:30 & 11:00 pm Reservations:  212-581-3080 or Full dinner menu – Parking nearby gypsyCD NEW CD Django Festival Allstars Live At Birdland 2012 (Three’s A Crowd Records TCR 5001) Street Date June 4, 2013) Dorado Schmitt-lead guitar & violin, Samson Schmitt-lead & rhythm guitar,  Ludovic Beier-accordion & accordina, Pierre Blanchard-violin, Franko Mehrstein-rhythm guitar, Amati Schmitt-lead guitar, Bronson Schmitt-lead guitar, Doudou Cuillerier-rhythm guitar, Xavier Nikq-bass, Jisoo Ok-cello, Anat Cohen-soprano sax The most meaningful tribute that can be paid to great Jazz artists is not to simply pay homage, but to be inspired by that legacy to create new and vibrant music in that same spirit.  From that perspective, The Django Festival Allstars CD on Three’s A Crowd Records is an unbridled success.  With the immortal Django Reinhardt as its life spring, the 14-year old Django Reinhardt New York Festival as its central nervous system, and the Schmitt Gypsy family dynasty as its heartbeat, the Django Festival Allstars bring the legendary Gypsy guitarist’s legacy fully into the 21st Century. While the essence of Django, and his Quintet of the Hot Club de France partner Stephane Grappelli, is fully represented by the remarkable music on this CD, a full palette of Jazz expression is on loving display throughout the 15 delightful tracks. Django has always been revered as Jazz royalty, but his popularity in New York City has received a tremendous boost through the efforts of the Django Reinhardt Festival’s co-founders and producers, Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta through the annual celebration at Birdland that has occurred every year since 2000.  But not only has the Festival created a slew of new fans for this timeless music, it has also provided the impetus for a union of amazing musicians who have connected through these events and now are permanently represented by this spectacular recording. Schmitt family patriarch Dorado, a legendary Gypsy guitarist himself, and his son Samson have been longtime members of the family here. They have since been joined by the younger family members Bronson (21) and Amati (17) to create a veritable guitar dynasty, and all are featured prominently on this CD.  The Birdland stage was also the place where the Schmitts were introduced to the two other primary contributors here, accordionist/accordina player Ludovic Beier  and violinist Pierre Blanchard.  These six are buoyed by the stalwart support of rhythm guitarists Doudou Cuillerier and Francko Mehrstein and the highly sympathetic and rhythmic Xavier Nikq on bass. So it’s an all-France lineup on hand for this historic recording. Extra spicing to the heady brew is added by the soprano sax of Anat Cohen and the cello of Jisoo Ok, who join in the festivities on one track apiece. Recorded live at Birdland in 2012, the repertoire features two notable Django classics, a pair of standards, two originals each by Beier and Blanchard, one by Bronson and five by Dorado. Quite appropriately the album opens with a traditional piece heavily associated with Django – Swing Gitan.  With its vividly driving rhythm, virtuosic guitarist Dorado and Ludovic’s rocking accordion, the CD is off to a rip-roaring start. The two Reinhardt originals are both lovely ballads.  Django’s gorgeous Nuages is a feature for Anat Cohen on soprano sax and Dorado on guitar.  While Anat stays away from copying the peerless Sidney Bechet’s style, she offers her own heart-wrenching interpretation, clearly evoking the mood of a smoky late-night Parisian café where Bechet, Django, Grappelli and their cohorts may have languidly expressed their unique artistry some 80 years ago.  Manoir de Mes Reves is a feature for Beier’s accordina (a mouth accordion) – a deeply romantic and virtuosic gently strolling piece built upon a pillow of gossamer guitar rhythms and deeply wooded bass. –more– The two standards offer a sharp contrast in moods.  The Jimmy Green/Eddie Heywood classic Out Of Nowhere is a gently swinging item featuring Blanchard’s gliding violin on the theme and brilliant solos by Dorado and Blanchard over a traditional strummed rhythm.  Pinkard, Tracey & Tauber’s Them There Eyes – made famous by Billie Holiday – is a blistering romp, with an explosive solo by Samson on lead guitar and equally scorching turns by Blanchard and Beier. Angular modernism is the flavor for Beier’s Camping Car, an Eastern-tinged, angular excursion.  A smoking piece with a vibrant groove, it evokes the tension-filled intensity of Juan Tizol’s Caravan, with powerfully driving bass lines and scalding accordion and violin solos.  Beier’s other original, Pat’s Waltz, is a medium up-tempo swinger, tantalizingly syncopated with intricate melodic lines and an unfettered sense of swing. Blanchard offers a more traditional waltz style with his Valse en Exil, vividly reminiscent of Paris, with a gently rolling theme bobbing easily on a vertical rhythmic structure.  Samson’s lilting guitar solo and Pierre’s swirling violin are highlights.  Dance form is also at play for the violinist’s second original, Balkanic Dance.  But gentility is not the goal here.  The somewhat North Indian solo violin intro quickly kicks into a striking, biting piece whose Eastern modality exudes a devilish-like intensity – restrained but unflinching as it builds to its climax. A very different vibe is at hand with Bronson Schmitt’s Bronson’s Song.  A funky groover in a descended melodic pattern and deliciously suspended rhythm, the piece shows the influence of the ‘60’s Soul Jazz genre and Bronson’s exciting solo explores territorial boundaries set by the great Grant Green. The elder Schmitt’s five compositions demonstrate a broad range of styles and colors.  For Pierre, a ballad of filigreed beauty is a feature for Dorado’s deeply emotive violin styling.  Song For Ettore is a similarly emotional foray into the traditional Gypsy style, again featuring Dorado on violin, with Ludovic on bandoneon and Amati on lead guitar each contributing mightily.  Melissa is a jaunty, nicely syncopated swinger, with exciting solos Samson, Blanchard and Beier. Infectious Brazilian rhythms are the key to the final two pieces.  El Dorado’s funky intro melds into a bouncy Samba-ish groove with a delicious violin/accordion unison line.  Bossa Dorado, a well-known composition by Dorado – with Jisoo Ok adding her cello to the mix – closes out this wonderful album on an irresistible Bossa Nova groove, with a strong dose of Samba woven in, and dancing, twisting and cavorting solos to bring it all home. Needless to say, the guitar virtuosity is simply marvelous – as it should be.  But it never is showy or ostentatious; always in perfect unity with the musical vision. Festival directors Philips and Stratta also produced the recording and have programmed the material in ideal fashion, balancing the tempos and moods for maximum effectiveness and listening enjoyment. A splendid album and a most fitting tribute to one of Jazz’s most singular figures. For more information about this album and the Festival, visit Festival Dates at Birdland:  June 25-30, 2013 & Nov.   5-10, 2013 Pat Philips Stratta Philips Productions National Publicity Campaign Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services Ph: 845-986-1677 /   This press release was obtained from:
By : mackenzieblum /June 05, 2013 /Blog, Events, News /Comments Off on GRANDE ABSENTE and AIR FRANCE presents The Return of “The Young Lions of Gypsy Jazz” DJANGO REINHARDT NY FESTIVAL June 25 – 30 @ Birdland Read More

Crillon Importers Reintroduces Absinthe to America

A brief history and overview of the brands that brought Absinthe back to the U.S.

In the beginning

Some will say that Absinthe made a comeback to the U.S. market only recently, when the TTB (Alcohol Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau) lifted the ban on Wormwood and allowed products to be sold as Absinthe for the first time in over a century (though Absinthe is still not technically a stand-alone category within distilled spirits classifications). As with most stories, this is not really the case. . Absinthe in the U.S. market had a much longer journey. You have to go back to a small conference room in New Jersey in 1999, where Crillon Importers Chairman and CEO Michel Roux proudly proclaimed that we were going to bring the notorious and legendary liquor, Absinthe, back to the U.S. market. It was the recipe that graced the lips of bohemian artists from the Belle Époque era and ingrained itself in Parisian culture. Absinthe was the trademark drink of artists like Degas, Manet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. Many of the most celebrated painters devoted pieces to Absinthe such as Manet’s The Absinthe Drinker and Degas’ L’Absinthe. To this day, absinthe continues to inspire creativity of the art community and legendary artists  

Absinthe in the US Becomes a Reality

The “Holy Trinity” of the absinthe formulation is anise, fennel and wormwood also known as artemisia absinthium. In addition to those three standard ingredients, there are found a great many proprietary variations in botanicals and spice content. Government bans of absinthe in the U.S. and other countries were due to the presence of wormwood (artemisia absinthium). Wormwood contains a substance known as thujone which is classified as a neurotoxin and was rumored to cause massive hallucinations during the belle époque period (and beyond). Hallucinations were largely a myth, simply tracing to overindulgence in a 130-150 proof liqueur. Nevertheless thujone, and therefore wormwood, and therefore absinthe, was forbidden for sale to U.S. consumers. Specifically, ANY product containing as little as ten-parts-per-million thujone was illegal. Clearly our dilemma could only be solved by an absinthe without wormwood, or a wormwood without thujone. Yet without wormwood we could not produce a historically genuine absinthe. Mr. Roux found a lovely distiller in Forcalquier in the south of France called Distilleries et Domaines. Together, we were able to discover a sister botanical called Southern Wormwood (artemisia abrotanum), or as the residents of the region called it “Petite Absinthe”. This was perfect in two ways. First, Southern Wormwood was only a small degree away from wormwood, so we felt we were doing the best we could at that time to maintain the integrity of our absinthe product. Second, the TTB had established that any product with less than ten-parts-per-million thujone content can be considered thujone free, therefore legal. The thujone content in Southern Wormwood allowed us to remain inside of the guidelines, so we approached the TTB with an Absinthe formula containing Southern Wormwood (artemisia abrotanum). On April 5, 2001 Crillon Importers gained government approval to market the first absinthe products in the United States since 1912. We called the brand Absente™, Absinthe Refined™ and at 110 proof it was this formula approval that would later set the precedent for other U.S. Absinthes to come.

The Story Blurs

Through the lens of hindsight, we now view 2006 as the year Absente came of age – meaning the year our competitors throughout the spirits industry began vigorously seeking ways to capitalize on the interest Absente had aroused. The U.S. government, of course, had been paying close attention to America’s acceptance of Absente over those years following its introduction. So after several marketers sought approval for an absinthe made with traditional wormwood, yet still remaining below the ten-parts-per-million thujone limit that had been pioneered by Absente, the government gave the go-ahead. And as the engineers of absinthe’s return, Crillon Importers was ideally positioned to fulfill that expanded demand. Following the government’s lifting of the ban on wormwood, in February 2008 we offered another exciting Absinthe brand, Grande Absente™, Absinthe Originale™ at 138 proof. After reviewing more than 200 recipes in partnership with our distillery, we selected a recipe we discovered from an old manuscript that would become Grande Absente. This recipe offered an authentic and original Verte absinthe recipe (Verte is green in French), but also resulted in a great taste. Grande Absente as well as all of our other absinthes, initially gain their color from the chlorophyll of herbs during the distillation process. It is only after distillation is complete that we add a small amount of additional color to stabilize the shelf life of our products. Our Grande Absente is painstakingly handcrafted using the perfect blend of the finest botanicals, exotic spices and distilled with classic artisanal methods.

More Absinthe

As we continued to see success in U.S. Absinthes we felt that is was important to continue to expand our Absinthe repertoire. First things first, in 2009 Crillon decided to add the legendary botanical wormwood to Absente, Absinthe Refined which changed the recipe only ever so slightly. We were busy in 2009 as this is when we launched yet another absinthe product, Absinthe Ordinaire™ at 92 proof. The world of absinthe is one of legends and mystery; it has been told that Dr. Pierre Ordinaire in 1792 created the first true Absinthe recipe in rural France. Shortly after the French Revolution, Dr. Ordinaire traveled around the Val de Travers on his faithful horse, Rocket, and sold his absinthe initially as an all-purpose cure-all. Although his intention was medicinal, absinthe rapidly became the recreational drink of choice. This brings us to today’s era, where Absinthe Ordinaire recalls one of the original and most commercially successful absinthe recipes during the glittering era of La Belle Époque Paris. We felt it was necessary to create an absinthe that boasted superior authenticity at an affordable price. Finally we arrive at our latest product. In September 2010, we proudly introduced Michel P. Roux, Supreme Absinthe™, a new and exciting small batch absinthe produced in limited quantities. At 151 proof Supreme Absinthe is exclusively produced in small batches annually and each bottle is individually numbered.

Credit to Crillon

Nearly 100 years after its ban, Americans can now enjoy one of history’s most notorious liquors in all its 19th century glory. Not since the early 1900s have Americans been able to experience the caliber of absinthe that Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Toulouse-Lautrec enjoyed during their time. While the lines fray and the story blurs as time passes, let’s be crystal clear. U.S. Absinthe may not even exist today without the focus and persistence Crillon Importers and M.P. Roux. The door was certainly opened with Absente, Absinthe Refined and has continued to grow with Grande Absente, Absinthe Ordinaire and Supreme Absinthe. Please visit the links below for Trademark and TTB Documentation.  

2001 Absente™, Absinthe Refined™ U.S. Trademark Approval

2001 Absente™, Absinthe Refined™ U.S. TTB Approval

By : Absente /December 19, 2012 /Blog, Events, News /Comments Off on Crillon Importers Reintroduces Absinthe to America Read More

Hosting Legendary Gypsy Guitarist Dorado Schmitt

Birland JazzNew York City – Bringing the best of music, art and fine spirits together, Grande Absente Absinthe Originale and Air France, are pleased to bring French guitarist and composer Dorado Schmitt and his three sons to the Django Reinhardt NY Festival this fall. “A Family Affair,” starring Dorado and his sons Amato, Bronson and Samson plus an allstar band of top musicians and guests, will showcase jazz aficionados in the style of the renowned gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt from Nov. 6-11 at Birdland. The FestIval is Produced by Pat Philips & Ettore Stratta. The 13th annual festival, located at Birdland  315 W. 44th St. (between 8th and 9th Avenues), celebrates the music and legacy of Reinhardt, who teamed with famed jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli in the ‘30s and ‘40s to create the hot swing form of jazz which continues to inspire jazz musicians from across the globe today.
“As the makers of the finest absinthe in the world, we always appreciate the opportunity to celebrate fine culture, music and arts, and we are thrilled to sponsor this festival as well as Dorado Schmitt and his family,” said Michel Roux, president of Crillon Importers, fine wines and spirits guru and the man behind some of the industry’s leading brands “Just as we’ve changed the world’s perception of cocktails by redefining the industry with art and passion, both Django Reinhardt and Dorado Schmitt have made an incredible impact on the world of music, and this will be an event to remember.”
Offered by Crillon Importers, Grande Absente is handcrafted in France and made exclusively with the highest quality spirits and select botanicals; Crillon provided the first legal absinthe on the U.S. market since 1912, crafted from the best artisanal distillation methods and ingredients.
In addition to Grande Absente and Air France, Verizon, RD Reetz, Inc. and John Pearse Strings also contributed to the 2012 Django Reinhardt NY Festival, which is celebrating its 13th year of great music. Reservations can be made at 212.581.3080 or
By : Absente /November 03, 2012 /Blog, Events, News /Comments Off on Hosting Legendary Gypsy Guitarist Dorado Schmitt Read More
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