The connection between these two albums is one Dave Biller, a multi-talented Austin guitar man who plays it all – Hot Club swing to straight-ahead jazz – with a fine dose of rockabilly added when the night’s right.
LeRoy’s Swing is a stylish collection of Djangocentric music played with a Texas twist. Biller’s backing band is modeled after Django’s wartime Nouveau Quintette, with clarinet (played here by Ben Saffer) replacing the early violin. Rhythm comes from guitarists Anthony Locke and Jeff Seaver, supported by bassist Ryan Gould.
Biller plays Django with cool sophistication and laidback charm. His song list is classic Hot Club, from Gusti Malha’s “La Valse des Niglos” to Al Jolson’s “Anniversary Song” to Django’s little-played “12th Year.” But the freshest numbers are Biller’s own, and he swings with sure grace.
The Jazz Pharaohs jokingly refer to themselves as “Austin’s Best Wedding Band” – and they may well have fans crashing wedding parties just for the music. They’re a more traditional American jazz band, kissing kin of Austin’s Asylum Street Spankers.
On Old Man Time, Biller trades hot guitar licks with clarinetist/vocalist Stanley Smith and Freddie Mendoza on trombone. The repertoire is pure standards as well as the band’s theme, “The Pharaohs Stomp.”
This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.