Baltimore band UltraFaux performs original music composed by guitarist Michael Joseph Harris in the style of Jazz Manouche, commonly known as Gypsy Jazz. The band is an acoustic powerhouse of three guitars and upright bass. Nora Leighton lends key support on rhythm guitar while Sami Arefin and Harris trade dazzling leads and harmonize together on rich gypsy-inspired melodies. The dynamic Eddie Hrybyk on upright bass holds down the steady swinging pulse and brings his passion for improvisation to the group.
Michael explains the name UltraFaux: "After a year of performing strictly Django Reinhardt songs as Hot Club of Baltimore, it became clear that it was time to write our own original music and create a new band name for that purpose. I had all these songs swimming in my head based on riffs and inspired by those songs we had been playing all year. In just over two weeks I had the music written for the group. The main guiding point for these songs was to keep them fun to play and honor the style of legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. The album is a mix of swing and waltzes totally inspired by Django's way of improvising. I decided to name most of them with French titles as a nod to the history of this music in Paris."
"Our friend Tomas from Orchester Praževica, suggested the name UltraFaux when we asked our fans to choose a name. The similarly titled song "Ultrafox" was one of Django's first originals he recorded in 1935. Django's record company at the time was called Ultraphone, so this was one of his many plays on words he enjoyed making up. It was the song Ultrafox that really set the group apart from all the other Jazz bands at the time."
"So the name means a variety of things for us. It signifies our move into the arena of original music much like the song Ultrafox did for Django's group in 1935 and its a play on words. That's why our symbol is the fox playing the Manouche guitar. it also means ultra fake, which is ironic because we are playing an authentic music born from a distinct gypsy tradition back in the 1930's and 40's. We are "Gadje," or outsiders because we are not actual gypsies from the Romani tradition, but we play with all the heart and soul of that tradition mixed with our own back ground in Blues/Rock."
"Django Reinhardt literally brought vastly different worlds together in his music, creating a universally appealing sound using simple acoustic instruments. So now, in 2014, we continue this tradition from the American side of the ocean, right here in Baltimore, seeking our own gypsy roots that were born in Django's mesmerizing music."