The music hails from the gypsy jazz tradition started by Belgian gypsy Django Reinhardt in the 1930s. A lyric in Django’s song “Continental” sums it up: “Beautiful music, dangerous rhythm…”
Performance has always been a part of Mary Alouette's personal expression as nurtured by her childhood in musical theatre, choral performances of Mahler and Beethoven at Carnegie Hall, and singing the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. A decision to pursue opera at McGill over musical theatre at NYU began as a motivation to build her voice. While delving into the vocal deliveries of opera idols Maria Callas and Rosa Ponselle, she also immersed herself into Montreal’s diverse and lively electronic and world music scene and worked with digital composers at McGill. Classical influences further ingrained themselves as she studied opera in Austria and Italy, and explored street culture and electronic music in Berlin.
Gypsy jazz (also known as jazz manouche) is a style of music made famous by Jean "Django" Reinhardt and his band Quintette du Hot Club de France in the 1930s and 40s. Although she had discovered Django Reinhardt’s music before, she stumbled into it again when she connected with the Hot Club of DC. The passionate, pulsing rhythms of life translated to musical harmonies played in similar rhythms on the gypsy jazz acoustic guitar. Dancing melodies recalled a time of café culture in Paris, but also referenced classical composers like Claude Debussy.
With the Hot Club of DC, the Lower East Side Hot Club in New York City, and gypsy jazz musicians in Montreal, she has performed in festivals along the East Coast. More frequently, she joins the musical groups in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. She is a current Artist-in-Residence at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland, where she works under the guidance of local and national industry professionals.
Alouette has been performing standards by Reinhardt and other artists, but recently learned how to play gypsy jazz guitar as a way to bring her own style to the genre. She will release an EP of original compositions in the style of the gypsy tradition in April at Strathmore. The EP, titled Midas, reveals the golden touch found in freedom of expression. Contemporary elements, like Juno and Moog synthesizers and soft electronic beats, provide a soundscape on a track that explores a modern fusion of instrumentation. Her work as a mixing engineer at ishlab studio in Brooklyn enabled her to take on the role of producer and make her sonic visions a reality.