As the UKs leading original covers band Gypsies of Bohemia pride themselves on having written at least half of their complete catalogue of original cover versions. Something of a paradox? Well that sums these guys up. These 5 musically literate, well groomed individuals can bring a party like no other to the bandstand and turn the most sophisticated of settings into an all-out guitar style rave with their inventive and superbly crafted renditions of popular contemporary songs from the modern era.
Heavily influenced by the sounds of early gypsy jazz guitar pioneer Django Reinhardt the group started life when jazz guitarist Jim Wallace met (then Whiskycats frontman) Matthew Whitaker. Early on, the pair were often run out of South Manchester’s trendy urban music venues to cries of ‘play something we know’ whilst batting away stale loaves of rye bread and tightly compact bags of mung beans with their Maccaferi guitars. Then came the breakthrough – a Klezmer style reworking of the Britney Spears hit ‘Toxic’ – offering middle England’s thirty-somethings an exclusive chance to revisit and enjoy the songs they were too cool to like in the 90s and noughties.
It has long been the trend amongst jazz musicians to take popular songs of the day and use them as vehicles for arranging and improvisation. Gypsies of Bohemia are pushing this trend to its absolute limits, daring each other as they go. No style too ludicrous. No song too absurd. Hip Hop, garage, 90’s rave, drum n’ bass, reggae and heavy metal are all comically juxtaposed against the sophisticated yet electrifying gypsy jazz tapestry.
Following the release of their debut album ‘Gyp Pop’ in 2014 they embarked on their second festival season and UK tour winning over audiences with their flamenco inspired take on Prodigy’s ‘Out of Space’ and up tempo jazz manouche version of Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’.
Rarely has such a delicate balance been successfully struck between the artistic and the absurd. Is Django turning in his grave?…. We hope he’s doing it B Boy style to the sounds of Gyp Pop.