Billet Deux

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Billet Deux

Billet Deux was formed in 2002.

They play acoustic jazz influenced by the work of Django Reinhardt and his musical heirs. Music filtered through the cafes of Paris, the tradition of Django Reinhardt, Classical concert halls, and modern jazz all combine to create a incredible musical experience.

Billet Deux has built a large and loyal following through the years with their masterful melding of the gypsy jazz, modern jazz, ethnic, and classical genres.

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Country United States
City Seattle
State/Province Washington
Performer Type Musical Act
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9 responses to “Billet Deux”

  1. Chris says:

    Anyone can start out with Django as inspiration but to follow through on the legacy is another story. This gypsy jazz crew has really got it going on in this great, adult listening session. With a load of real music that’s coming as much from the heart as it is the fingers, this crew gives you a great dose of that something different and something extra that’s hard to beat. Inspired throughout. – Chris Spector – Midwest Record

  2. Kyra says:

    …Those guys have a fantastic sound!
    Kyra Sims – KJHK Lawrence, KS

  3. Joost says:

    What a pleasure to have this to add to my jazz program. One can really feel the love and strength of Django Reinhardt in a great performance by these musicians. Great skills!
    Joost Van Steen, Jazz & Blues Tour Radio – The Netherlands

  4. Ben says:

    (Deux) is one of the best jazz releases of 2008. Even though I’m listening in 2009. It’s a distinctly guitar-drive jazz album, almost classical in orientation. (It) contains “the sophistication and coolness of modern jazz” and they are right to call themselves such. – Ben Ohmart – Soopah Music

  5. Vintage Guitar Magazine says:

    Django Reinhardt’s influence over his self-created genre of Gypsy jazz remains so all-powerful that most bands struggle to even walk in his footsteps. Rare are the musicians who can break free to create their own voices with Django’s inspiration as a starting point.
    Billet-Deux is one. This Seattle band formed in 2002 determining to bring new vision to Gypsy jazz.
    The group includes rhythm guitarist and Gypsy jazz historian Ted Gottsegen and lead guitarist Troy Chapman. The quartet is rounded out be cellist James Hinkley and bassist Kevin Stevens.
    With this lineup, it’s not surprising that Billet-Deux boasts a far different sound from others in the genre. The band members all have backgrounds in big-band jazz and classical music, and the style and sensibilities they bring to the ensemble is thus unique.
    As the musicians state on their debut CD, this is “music filtered through the cafes of Paris, the genius of Django Reinhardt, classical concert halls, bebop and modern jazz…” And they count as their influences a range of musicians from John Coltrane to Thelonius Monk, Matelo Ferret to his bebopper son, Boulou Ferre.
    Alita includes several Django tunes and other classics such as Ellington’s “Caravan” and John Lewis’s eulogy “Django”. The interplay between Chapman’s bebop-inflected lines and Hinkley’s creamy cello improvisations create an alchemy that’s at once classic in tone and novel in expression. Throughout, Gottsegen and Stevens’ rhythm is rock steady.
    It’s the band originals that are especially exciting here. Chapman’s title tune is a sweetly singing melody, a catchy composition with a Django-inflected hook. “My Gypsy Hat” by Chapman and Stevens’ “Seattle Blue” showcase the bands‘s extremes, from bebop to moody classical voices.
    Alita offers an unique vision, and Billet-Deux are a band to see, and watch in the future.
    – Vintage Guitar Magazine

  6. CMJ says:

    Billet-Deux’s “Deux” hits the CMJ jazz top 10! – CMJ

  7. John says:

    “When you hear them play Dizzy Gillespie’s “Be-Bop” or Charles Mingus‘ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, one can only imagine these legends smiling and tapping their feet if they were around to do so (Mingus might yell and curse them out, but that would be his way of showing approval). ”
    – John Book

  8. Tom says:

    They call their sound “Djazz:” Parisian cafes, Bebop, M. Reinhardt, Classical. What it is is WOW great, with a distinctive sound thanks to the use of a cello, rather than a gypsy fiddle. Pitched at a lower register, the CD has a sexy rumble, like the pillow talk in those French romance movies of the ‘60s. Billet-Deux’s principals are Troy Chapman on Django-y guitar, and James Hinkley on the cello. Deux is a superb mix of modern jazz and bebop classics, a terrific Hinkley original (“Fishwife Blues”), and a few eclectics that demonstrate how broadly and thoughtfully the group explores its material. The CD starts off with a few faves by the likes of Dizzy and Mingus before branching out, and it sets the right tone. Really, the arrangements are so appealing, and the sound so alluring, the listening can begin anywhere – this is a “leave in the CD player” disc. Hinkley and Chapman are backed by the exquisite Josephina Hunner, on second guitar, Michael Yocco on bass, and Roger Bennett on drums. Bennett is deserving of special mention, as he is consistently making crucial contributions, those surprising rhythmic and drum choices that color the entire tune, or those little touches that bring a smile and make the tune. Deux is unquestionably one of the top jazz releases this year.

    – Tom Petersen, Victory Review September 2008

  9. Djangology.net says:

    With it’s second full length release–appropriately dubbed Deux–Seattle based Billet-Deux proves itself to be one of the most mature, innovative, and intelligent bands mining the rich vein of Gypsy Jazz. Led by guitarist and founder Troy Chapman and cellist James Hinkley, the revamped ensemble (with a new rhythm section replacing that from their debut disc Alita) tours through decades of jazz history over the course of the album, including pieces by Mingus (Goodbye Porkpie Hat), Sonny Rollins (Pent-Up House), and Wes Montgomery (album opener Four On Six, which is quickly becoming a new standard among gypsy jazzers). Where many albums in the genre feature a laundry list of tunes associated with Django Reinhardt, the sole tune of his included here is his late-era Anouman, a beautiful ballad that, with its resemblance to the Bill Evans classic Blue in Green, slips perfectly into this moody and evocative set.
    But it’s not only their choice of repertoire that sets Billet-Deux apart. Their arrangements are tight, sophisticated pieces of work that dispense with the head-solos-head boilerplate in favor of forms that create a musical path for listeners to travel upon. Chapman’s guitar and Hinkley’s cello weave in and out, around and over each other, carrying on a conversation like old friends. Beneath them, the percussion work of Roger Bennett and rhythm guitar of Josephina Hunner keeps a subtle heartbeat pulse, unobtrusive but compulsively swinging. Together, they make a music that’s eminently listenable–music that creates its own mood, and one that you don’t tire of returning to time and again.
    That’s a rare and admirable thing in a circle that seems to anoint a new guitar messiah every few months. Part of the credit has to go to Hinkley’s cello, whose voice alone–richer and more sonorous than the more common violin–helps shape the music into something warm, soft, and darkly inviting. In Hinkley’s hands, it’s also a surprisingly versatile instrument; while an accompanying role as a quasi-bass is easy enough to imagine, that’s not what’s happening here (bassist Michael Yocco holds down that job). Instead, it’s in the carved lines and fluid bowing of his solos that Hinkley really makes the instrument sing. One wonders why it’s not heard more often in jazz circles.
    As a guitarist, Chapman is a musician. That is, he always seems intent on creating something uniquely beautiful instead of blowing through a collection of runs. One gets the feeling that Chapman has already studied the fireworks school of playing, only to put it aside in favor of making more meaningful work–a work that speaks wholly in his own voice, and has a lot to say.

    – Djangology.net

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