Djangophonique is Bringing Jazz Manouche to Ann Arbor

First appearing on the music scene in 2019 with a gig at the Blue Llama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor, Djangophonique is a musical quartet inspired by the Parisian Jazz Manouche style of Django Rheinhardt.  

The group was formed by guitarist and Michigan native Andrew Brown. Brown grew up around music being the son of a Motown session musician and nephew of a world-class jazz bassist, but it wasn’t until adulthood that he had taken a special interest in this unique style of jazz. 

The rest of the band includes Tyler Rindo on clarinet, Zach Croft on rhythm guitar, and Jorian Olk-Szost on upright bass. 

Rindo and Brown actually live down the street from one another, but ironically did not meet until they both attended a music camp in Massachusetts. The rest of the band was all brought together through their love of swing music. 

Photos provided by Djangophonique

Originally, the group faced uncertainty about how well their niche style of music would be received, but the theatrical flair and musical humor of their shows were so energetic that they naturally drew in a crowd. 

When describing the band’s style of music, Brown said, “I’ve had friends joke that it’s like music with chest hair. I think it’s just joyful, happy music people really connect to.” 

Mixed and mastered by Glenn Brown, the band’s latest album, “Introducing Djangophonique” was recorded in Brown’s Ypsilanti living room. 

“We tried to make the album unique and fun, so the first song is a standard tune, but we put this intro on it that is a more progressive bluegrass style,” Brown said of the first record on the album, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” 

While Brown said that recording their records helped the group improve by pushing them into figuring out how they wanted to present themselves, he admitted he finds performing in front of a live audience a more gratifying experience. 

“Being a live performer, there’s this energy exchange with the audience and I really feed off of that,” he said. 

Photos provided by Djangophonique

While on the topic of live performances, Brown said that “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie” and their cover of Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” are both his and crowd favorites. 

As far as any near future plans go for Djangophonique, aside from their upcoming midwest performances, Brown said that there’s not anything he can announce yet, but fans might be able to see them at some more fun events and festivals over the summer. 

Future goals for the group include spreading awareness for this specific music style throughout the midwest. Brown explained that while the scene for this type of jazz is vibrant over in Europe, there are not as many listeners in the U.S.

“The goal is to take the traditions and add in some new things that will make it a little more accessible and pull people in and get them interested in the music,” he said. 

Brown said that the coolest part of getting to play music as a career is when he gets the chance to make emotional connections with the audience through music and see the effect his music has on them. 

“Getting to make people happy, that’s a meaningful thing,” Brown said. 

Djangophonique is looking forward to playing at The Ark on Jan. 20 in the same city they held their first gig. 

“The Ark is such a historical venue and brings in a lot of amazing talent,” Brown said. 

The show begins at 8pm and will also feature jazz band Harmonious Wail. Tickets can be purchased here