Duved Dunayevsky: There’s Rhythm in Paris

Chapter 1: In Which Paris Comes to New York

In 2019, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Tatiana Eva Marie’s birthday party, which she held in a Brooklyn jazz club where she often played. That summer, Tatiana’s mother Anca was in town from her homes in Switzerland and Romania, and we had gotten friendly when we met up at Tatiana’s gigs. Hence the invitation.

Not surprisingly, others from the NYC jazz world were in attendance, including Arnt Arntzen, and Sara Labriola, whose dad Art I knew from the short lived but fabulous hapa haole band Tiki Daddy. I congratulated the birthday girl, danced with Anca, and as I sat near the musicians who were playing, a fellow sat down next to me, with the butt end of his guitar facing me, and he set to playing spectacular gypsy (sic) music, with flair, terrific musicality, and technical flawlessness. I remember Sara L., playing rhythm guitar to this fellow’s soloing, with a huge smile on her face, and body language that clearly demonstrated how much she enjoyed and appreciated this young man’s outstanding talent.

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I know a lot of the musicians in the NYC trad jazz universe, but this fellow was unknown to me, so as any self-respecting New Yorker would do, I politely asked him “who the hell are you?!?” And he introduced himself as Duved Dunayevsky, as that was (and remains) his name. From Jerusalem by way of Paris, he was in New York for a short while. During his stay, I saw him play at one other spot, the Anyway Café. At that gig, while he was outside smoking, several young women ran up to him, at least one of whom he knew from a previous trip. She asked if he would meet up with her the following morning, and he said he was not awake during the morning. The latest she could meet him was noon, and he said he couldn’t be up by then. In other words, a real jazz musician.

Guitarist Duved Dunayevsky (Photo Credit Julien Farhi)

I should pause here to describe Duved, so you know why women would run up to him on the street. He is a striking young man. Just out of his twenties when we met, he wears a sporty, thin moustache just above his lip. He has thick dark brown hair. He is handsome and appears fit. Perhaps his most notable feature, however, is how the man dresses. He has a great deal of style, which will be evident from his YouTube video titled “Duved Dunayevsky – Home Practice.” In the opening number he is wearing a windowpane blazer of moderate blue with panes of rust red. His bow tie, relaxed to the point of resembling a foulard, is also rust red. His pocket square is beige. He has a pin in the buttonhole of his lapel in the shape of a nacred mandolin, and of course he’s wearing French cuffs. I have twice bumped into Duved on the streets of Paris (it is a small city compared with New York), including on his home block, and he is always dressed appropriately to the era, living the epoch, as does NYC-based cornetist Mike Davis, though Duved’s take is less formal than Mike’s. Duved generally wears a boater, and he carries it all off effortlessly.

I asked him if he planned to return to New York, and he said he’d be back the following year. I told him to let me know in advance so I could hire him for a private gig at my mother’s house in Westchester, just north of the city. He did so, and on Saturday, December 4th, 2021, and we did indeed have him play in Mom’s living room, as it was winter. The bassist was Abe Pollack. As his rhythm guitarist, Duved brought Charlie Roman Castaluzzo, whom I hadn’t met before. Charlie showed up in very dark, round sunglasses, and long, beige, woolen trench coat, sporting a moustache and a severe expression—quite the entrance.

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There was also the gifted and charming, Paris-based violinist and vocalist Daniel Garlitzky, in the role of Stephfane Grappelli to Duved’s Django Reinhardt. Among the small coterie of friends I had invited was a college friend, Eric Karp, who loved the Grateful Dead and Django Reinhardt (what a combination!). We had lost touch shortly after college, so I tracked down the radiation oncology clinic he founded, and left a message for him. When he called me, I told him about this reincarnation of Django coming to play and invited him to the party. He said “That’s why you’re calling me? Most of the time, when I hear from an old friend, it’s because someone’s got cancer.” I assured him that I was fine, and that he should come. He did and was appropriately awestruck.

Local punk musicians and technical whiz kids Nick and William Ferri often recorded such private gigs for me. I think it was William and a friend who recorded this one, and I’m very pleased to have and be able to share quality tracks from that afternoon via my YouTube channel. (Thanks to Sara Lievre for making these audio tracks into videos—and thanks to Mom for hosting the performance.)

During the concert, someone referred to the music being played as “gypsy music” (see “sic” above). Duved politely drew a distinction, saying that what he was playing was the style of Django Reinhardt. (Reinhardt was of gypsy extraction, specifically the Manouche subset of the Romani). Gypsy jazz, by contrast, was relatively new term Duved said. “Gypsy jazz is a valid style, but it is not the same as traditional gypsy music, and it’s not what Django played.” Django’s style is distinct from gypsy jazz—also called Manouche jazz—in that Django’s technique is traditional banjo technique, and the music he played was what are now called standards of the jazz songbook.

Gypsy/manouche jazz copied Django’s fast playing, but copied neither his technique, nor his embrace of the jazz standards. And none matched Django’s inventive rhythm guitar, nor the virtuosity and creativity of his chord and note choices in his solos. Manouche musicians are less focused on the canon and “play a lick-based style,” per Duved. By contrast, Django was focused from early days on the jazz standards, and on the great jazz performers, such as Louis Armstrong. During his career Django played with many of them, including Pops, Duke Ellington, and Coleman Hawkins. Django is also distinguished by the physical damage he sustained to his left hand during a fire. He used mostly his intact index and middle fingers in his playing, and got very little use of his damaged ring and pinkie fingers. He adapted his style in light of this limitation with increased use of three-note cords, which can be played with two fingers, and this adaptation also distinguishes Django’s style from other guitarists.

Chapter 2: Duved’s Musical Path

Duved is from Jerusalem and is one of five children. They recently got their mother out of Jerusalem due to the current heightened unrest there. His earliest musical roots were Nirvana (cf. their first album Bleach and their song “About a Girl”), then Metallica (cf. “Master of Puppets”), then Jimmy Hendrix (cf. “Voodoo Child”), from whom he got his deep love of love of the guitar. John Scofield was a big influence as well. As were Pat Metheny and Jaco Pistorious, who led Duved to Birelli Legrene. Legrene was a child prodigy of gypsy jazz, who recorded his first album at age 12.

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Duved’s love of Django is what brought him to Paris—“I loved Django because he played beautiful melodies in a way that is noble, romantic, and accurate.” “Beautiful, noble, romantic, and accurate” are adjectives that describe Duved’s playing, too. I would add “bold” and Brian Nalepka once told me that what he admires about Duved’s playing is that, whether fast or slow, every note and every phrase he plays is highly musical.

Duved wanted to be where Django had lived—Paris—and assumed he would find people here who played like Django, from whom he could learn the style. In this he was disappointed and he soon realized that he would have to teach himself to play like Django, which he subsequently did. Duved studied in the conservatory for one week. He is almost completely self-taught.

Arriving originally without a visa, Duved eventually returned from Israel with a visa of “talent and competence”, which seems like a category designed specifically for him.

Chapter 3: An American In Paris

Working at a school, I had the option of taking summers off, which I did once the worst of Covid had passed. I notified Duved that I’d be coming to Paris in July of 2022. We met up at his first gig after my arrival, and my month in Paris was off to the musical races! Charlie Roman Castalluzzo was in Paris from New York at the same time, as was his charming and beautiful Dutch girlfriend, Erke Roosen, who is a talented dancer.

At a standard gig—at the Poulette de Grain, or the Serpent à Plume, or Assaporare—Duved’s band would include Russian Daniel Garlitzky on violin and vocals, Italian Andrea Soria on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Australian Scott Koehler of the waxed mustache on bass. I was lucky in that Duved became my actual friend during the month I was here, routinely taking me out after the gig to such places as Le Genie, a beer bar near the Bastille that welcomed gypsy performers, and where I made a number of acquaintances, and one very good friend. He showed me the secret speakeasy that even Parisians who live in the neighborhood don’t know about. And he got me onto a jazz musician’s schedule. We would routinely be out after his gigs, going from one bar to another, until two a.m., at which point Duved would announce where we were going next, and at which point I told him I was going home, and after my long walk to my apartment in Ménilmontant, and my shower, I got to bed most days at 4 a.m., setting my alarm for 1 p.m., going out for breakfast as most people were finishing their lunch. (Ironically, Paris jazz musician hours are simply regular New York hours. I was going to bed at 10 p.m. NY time, and waking up at 7 a.m.)

One day he told me we were going boating in the Bois de Vincennes, and instructed me to bring two bottles of chilled white wine and to meet him there the following day. For the six of us (Duved, Charlie Roman Castelluzzo and his girlfriend Erke, Sorrel Mocchia Di Coggiola, and her friend), we had another two bottles of chilled white wine, and a hamper of fruit, bread, and cheese, along with wine glasses and metal silverware. We ate well, drank liberally, and sweated through the hot summer day, while Duved and Charlie played. Some moments in life truly stand out.

I returned to the states at the end of August. During the month I had spent in Paris in 2022, my buddy Watty (Thomas Waitkins), with whom I had played lacrosse in high school and with whom I went out to hear music (he came with my family to the opening night of the Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks at Bond 45), died unexpectedly—a fellow my exact age. My mom died at a ripe old age the month after I returned. These events drove home the meaning of “tomorrow is not promised.” My sister Liana moved about an hour north of me, and the house we grew up in, which was our meeting place as adults, went on the market, and was ultimately sold.

Meanwhile, Covid affected my workplace the way it affected many in the mental health and the health care fields—increased stress and decreased staffing levels. And while I still loved my colleagues, I was suffering from compassion fatigue, and no amount of self-care seemed to ameliorate it. I realized that if ever there was a time to retire, this was it. I gave notice at work, and started making plans to retire and to move to Paris. Sparing you the details of braving the bureaucracy to obtain a long-stay French visa, and to rent out my apartment in White Plains, I flew out on August 3rd (the 10th anniversary of my father’s death) landing on August 4th at Charles de Gaulle Airport, to spend retired life as a boulevardier in Paris.

Chapter 4: Duved’s Discography

In addition to everything I’ve already noted, another thing that stands out about Duved is the remarkable beauty and quality of his recorded work. When I go out and hear music, if a band I’ve enjoyed has a CD for sale, I generally buy it, as it supports the band, and often gives me great joy long after the original concert. But not always. It’s quite common that the CD doesn’t recapture the musical experience, and there have been times when the CD turns out to be a real disappointment. Of course, some bands have put out truly superb recorded work, including (but not limited to) Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, Mike Davis and the New Wonders, Miss Maybell and the Jazz Age Artistes, Del and the Rad Rompers, Les Chauds Lapins, Matt Tolentino, and Tony Jacobs’ Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, to mention but a few that are truly worth buying and listening to again and again.

Duved’s recordings fall solidly into this group. Each of his CDs (or downloads from Bandcamp) is a highly worthwhile purchase. I’ve bought all of them, and have listened to them again and again, with sustained delight. These recordings are from various combos, including:

♫ Duved’s Hot Five (2015)

♫ Duved’s Prebop Orchestra (2019) (CD is If Horses Were Roses)

♫ Duved’s Transatlantic Five (CDs are More Than You Know, and Ten Cents a Dance (Live at Jonesy, Paris) and Happy Days in Taiwan)

The Hot Five (2015) is Duved’s first album comprised of tunes Duved wrote, with the exception of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” which Duved denies authoring. The album was recorded in his “pre-visa” days. The band name is a reference to Django Reinhardt’s Quintette du Hot-Club de France.

The Prebop Orchestra (2019) also features original music, some of which Duved wrote. Others were written by Adrien Delmer, who also did arrangements on the album. Daniel Garlitzky, a classically trained violinist, who was learning jazz violin at the time, arranged two of the tracks. In the tunes for which there are words, we have Tatiana Eva Marie to thank for the lyrics and the vocals. The album was recorded with Parisian musicians, many of whom I’ve come to know while living in Paris:

Benoît de Flamesnil on trombone, Andrea Soria on guitar, Mathieu Meyer on piano, Daniel Garlitsky who sang harmony on “Zanzabar,” with Tatiana Eva Marie singing lead, as she did on three other songs on the album. “Zanzibar,” which sounds like it was plucked directly from the 1930s, has really stuck with me.

Guitarist Duved Dunayevsky (submitted photo)

Duved and His Transatlantic Five’s album More Than You Know is a collection of jazz standards, including “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere”, which was composed by Sidney Bechet while he was living in Paris. This album was recorded in Quebec, with some of his familiar collaborators (Daniel Garlitsky and Tatiana Eva Marie). A major force behind the album was Dennis Chang, who describes himself as “a ‘Gypsy Jazz’ guitarist who specializes in the style of the great Django Reinhardt.” Mr. Chang played bass on the album, while producing the album, and he partnered with Duved to master the tracks. The title track is simply gorgeous.

Happy Days in Taiwan is the other album of Duved and His Transatlantic Five (though how you get from France to Taiwan via the Atlantic is not known to any living mariner). It’s a mix of well known and lesser known jazz standards, songs authored by Django himself, and one each by Duved Dunayevsky and Claude Debussy. It includes a favorite song of mine, “Miss Annabel Lee.” The album was sponsored by the Taiwanese government to encourage cultural exchange after Duved played a concert in Taiwan. Because it was recorded during Covid, just at the time the vaccine was first introduced, the band members recorded the tracks in their own home countries, and the finished tracks were then assembled in Paris.

In the couple of years that I have known Duved, his talent has become more widely recognized. For the first 50 days of my stay this year, Duved and Daniel were touring the west coast of the US. They returned for about a week, and then left for a tour of several weeks in Japan and Taiwan. During that interstitial week, Duved and Daniel and “the gang” (Andrea Soria and Scott Koehler—Pierre Richeux cancelled at the last minute to be in the delivery room with his wife) performed at the venerable Bal Blomet—the oldest jazz club in Europe, which opened in 1924. (Videos from that evening, October 14, 2023, may be found on my YouTube channel.)

Duved then played a gig with a small combo of Scott Koehler on bass, Pablo Lopez on guitar, and Eduards Rutkovskis on accordion at the Italian restaurant, Assaporare. Duved intimated that he’s thinking of starting a musette band—something to look forward to. Three tracks from that gig, of which I’ve included two musette pieces, are on my YouTube channel.

As I write, Duved and Daniel are off on their tour of Japan and Taiwan, stars on three continents. More to come, if the gods, and Andy, allow it.


Visit Duved Dunayevsky online at www.duveddunayevsky.com, view his videos at www.youtube.com/@duved and listen to and purchase his music at duvedshotfive.bandcamp.com, duvedspreboporchestra.bandcamp.com, and duvedandhistransatlanticfive.bandcamp.com.

Brice Moss (code name ~ Flâneur de Paris) now resides in France year-round. See his videos at www.youtube.com/@BriceMoss.

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