Take some jazz, a bit of pop and funk and gypsify it.
That’s about the best way to describe le Percolateur, a unique Chicago-based band performing Aug. 23 as part of the Woodstock Jazz Festival. Having performed once before at the festival, the band was a hit and asked to return.
Made up of a core base of five members – but often drawing in guest performers – the band began playing together about seven years ago, said Stacy McMichael, its bassist.
“We are kind of using the core instrumentation of gypsy jazz,” she said of the music genre also known as hot club jazz or gypsy swing. “It’s a 1940s French swing. ... but we don’t really do the traditional thing. We all have different backgrounds. We just kind of have this, I don’t know, gypsy jazz alternative folk.”
The band puts their own twist on jazz standards but also performs originals.
Its name has a bit of a triple meaning, having stemmed from the French roots of the band’s violinist, a shared love of coffee and as a representation of the varied musical backgrounds of its members.
“What comes to the surface is all of those elements, rock and roll, jazz, funk – that’s all of our influences percolating to the top,” McMichael said.
The band is one of four bands performing at the festival, which takes place at two different venues this year – the Woodstock Square at 9:30 a.m. and Stage Left Café at 7 p.m. Le Percolateur is the last performance of the night.
Other bands include The Rick Embach Trio, the Outcast Jazz Band and The Johnny Weber Trio. Seating is limited at the Stage Left Café performances.
Hosted by Jazz on the Square, the festival is in its seventh year, serving through the years as both a way for jazz lovers to enjoy the music and as a venue for performers to share their art.
Festival organizer Bryan Kyrouac actually got involved with Jazz on the Square while looking for somewhere to play his saxophone. He saw a poster for a jazz jam session in the Square.
“I was surprised to find out it was happening literally in my backyard,” he said.
Over time, he said he became more involved with the group and agreed to head up this year’s festival.
“The organization has given me a lot. It gave me a place to play,” he said. “I figured there’s little chance I’m ever going to pay them back, but maybe I can pay it forward and keep this opportunity going.”