The Hot Club of Philadelphia was started in 2001 by guitarist Barry Wahrhaftig.
They are an acoustic ensemble, dedicated to playing ‘Gypsy Jazz.’ That’s the term used to describe the music pioneered by the legendary original ‘Hot Club of France Quintet,’ which was led by guitarist Django Reinhardt and Violinist Stephane Grappelli. Django and Grappelli were attempting to do their own version of American ‘Hot Jazz,’ as played by artists like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. They used acoustic guitars, bass and violin, rather than horns and drums. Grappelli and Django added some French and Gypsy flavor and created a blend of music that is quite popular and accessible. The HCPhilly mixes the original style of the HCOF, along with their own modern influences.
The band performs as a trio, quartet, quintet, etc. There have been some changes in the line up through the years. Bassist Jim Stager has been with the group from the beginning.
Joshua Machiz & Dylan Taylor also share bass duties. Dan Pearce is the 2nd guitarist, and violinist Joseph Arnold is a key part of the group’s recordings and shows, and clarinetists Bob Butryn and Paul Butler are also mainstays .
The band features vocalist Phyllis Chapell and they have collaborated with Denise King.
Their second CD, ‘Gypsy Routes,’ released in 2005, features Chapell singing pieces like Edith Piaf’s ‘La Foule’ in French, and ‘Cry Me a River’ [in English].