about the band
Pine Island violinist David Gusakov, twins Rob and Jim McCuen on solo guitar and double bass, and rhythm guitarist Jared Volpe make up Vermont's newest acoustic, Hot Club style quartet. Visit the links above to find out more about Swing Noire.
What made (and makes) this music unique is the use of 2 – 3 guitars of the Selmer/Maccaferri style, double bass, and in the traditional lineup, a swingin' violin. We take inspiration from the Romany, Sinti and Manouche diaspora who influenced Django Reinhardt along with the American Hot Jazz of the early 1900's.
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David Gusakov - Violin
I first played western swing with Pine Island in the 70's, I moved to swing standards through several incarnations of Swing Shift in the 80's and 90's, and then hooked into Parisian swing with the Will Patton Ensemble (3 cd's to date).
Extra inspiration came from meeting Stephane Grappelli backstage in NYC and later playing a gig with his bass player. I've written a few swing tunes (Hot Water on Pine Island's Live Inside album), and hope to do more.
I love and play many styles of music, but none frees my musical soul like swing, especially Parisian swing. The sizzle of the hot tunes, the slow-burn passion of the ballades - I think I was a troubadour in a past life!
Rob McCuen - Solo Guitar
Rob began playing guitar at the age of 14, when his cello studies became too complicated. He strove to emulate the sounds of Hendrix, Clapton, and other rock gods, without much success. Rob began delving into jazz while in college, and continues his exploration to this day.
He has played in bands including T. Hatch, the Fairy Gangstas, and Wiley Dobbs, playing everything from bluegrass to jazz to hip-hop along the way. Rob and his musical cohorts have played at a variety of clubs and events, sharing the stage with bands such as Ma Ma Vig, Eddie From Ohio, and moe.
Jim McCuen - Double Bass
Jim joined the Upstate New York jam band Conehead Buddha in the early nineties, touring extensivesly and sharing the stage with the likes of Rusted Root, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and moe.
Jim eventually began moving in a different musical direction, buying an upright bass and moving to Colorado. He provided the bottom end for several groups, playing bluegrass and jazz throughout Colorado and New Mexico. Returning to the Northeast in 2000, Jim joined his brother Rob in the newgrass/jazz group Wiley Dobbs. The band has played clubs, festivals, and weddings throughout Upstate New York and New England for the past 5 years.
Jared Volpe - Rhythm Guitar
The short of it is that I have the hot swing bug. Can’t really stop listening to it. The grandparents raised me on jazz – the same jazz that inspired Django and Stephane – Armstrong, Ellington, Hawkings, Carter, et al. It’s a fit (I played the mandolin for almost 10 years before quitting cold turkey - I've seen the light.)
Since then, I have be studying the art of ‘la pompe’ (aka the pump) - the harmonic and rhythmic foundation of the Gypsy jazz rhythm section. It is an art unto itself and I’m still finger painting, but I can make it sound pretty now and again. I've had the good fortune of studying rhythm with Dennis Chang, Hervé Gaguenetti, Michael Horowitz, and Dave Kelbie and most recently, The Roseneberg Trio.
Django was a prolific composer, arranger and recorder. His tradition is alive and growing rapidly as seen not only in the virtuosic playing of The Rosenberg Trio, Bireli Lagrene, the Schmitt family, Angelo Debarre, Fapy Lafertin, Lollo Meier, Patrick Saussois, Jimmy Rosenberg, Ritary Gaguenetti, their bands and countless others, but also by the worldwide phenomenon of Hot Clubs.
Here is a taste of the tunes we do » After You've Gone, All of Me, Blue Drag, Bossa Dorado, Diminishing, Django's Castle, Djangology, Douce Ambiance, For Sephora, Heavy Artillerie, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, I'll See You In My Dreams, J'Attendrai, Limeshouse Blues, Mabel, Minor Blues, Minor Swing, Night and Day, Nuages, Oriental Shuffle, Si Tu Savais, Stompin' at Decca, Sweet Chorus, Sweet Georgia Brown, Swing '42, Swing Gitan, Tchavolo Swing, Tears, Troublant Bolero and others...
It's kind of like bluegrass... but better!
Tell your momma we told you.