Babik is an outstanding band from Buffalo, a gypsy jazz act that will revive you, thrill you and add some juice to your life.

No drums drive the band, the members all play stringed instruments:

Joshua Assad, rhythm guitar
Stuart Fuchs, lead guitar
Kevin O’Brien, upright bass
Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry, violin

The gypsy jazz style, evidently, has in its heart and cells a magic rhythm, strong but unwilling to spoil the music’s melodies and open to improvisation and the flavor of the moment.

Django Reinhardt digested the gypsy music and life of his youth, the jazz of Duke Ellington and the tumult of Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s and grew the style of music that Babik performs. Babik’s music is not a rehashing of old excellent tunes and it is not neo-vintage-anything. It’s music that lives now. They employ the language of gypsy jazz the way that anyone employs a language. They use it to address the world and call forth their own sense of things. It is a language that is Django’s but it is theirs as well. It is ours if we choose to adopt it.

Jazz most often strikes me as a music to listen with the playing musicians. They don’t necessarily play for you, separated and at a distance. Get along side the music and move with it and it’s suddenly yours and it isn’t just a swirl of sound moving the air but a call, an expression, a beckoning, a direction that you can go with for a while.

That’s the way Babik plays, but also one better. When you get with the music, a door opens to all of the feeling–sweet and bitter–and history and technique and silences and stomps that are encoded into it. Damn, though, if you don’t have to do that to love it. It’s so many infectious grooves.

Below are links to recordings of a couple of their live performances. You’ll find that the music becomes more complex and expressive as the band plays music from their forthcoming second album, as featured on the Buffalo Avenues set. But everything they play is excellent.

From the Buffalo Live! Podcast, from the Allen Street Hardware Cafe, January 2006.

From the Buffalo Avenues show at the University at Buffalo, February 2008.…

Also a bonus download from the show on Buffalo Avenues.…

Babik on MySpace

Incidentally, Stuart Fuchs is a graduate of the University at Buffalo Department of Music.