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Our Story

Montana Manouche is a Bozeman-based Gypsy Jazz quartet that plays music in the style of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France. Django Reinhardt was born in Belgium, in 1910, in a nomadic caravan, to Manouche parents. (Manouche refers to the branch of the Romani people that settled in France.) As a teenager, Django was already an accomplished musician, and performed in the Paris dance halls. After he heard the music of American jazz bands playing in Paris, Django was captivated, and began absorbing and assimilating the popular jazz standards, working out the the melodies on his guitar. In the early 1930s, Django met French violinist Stephane Grappelli, who was also experimenting with playing American jazz. Together they formed The Quintette of the Hot Club of France, a groundbreaking European jazz group showcasing Django on guitar and Stephane Grappelli on violin, along with a rhythm section that featured a unique rhythm guitar style known as "la pompe." And so began the musical genre known today as Jazz Manouche or Gypsy Jazz.

Gypsy Jazz music is experiencing a worldwide resurgence in interest and popularity, and Montana is no exception! 

Montana Manouche began in 2012, when bluegrass musicians Ray Padilla (rhythm guitar) and Nancy Padilla (violin) from Bozeman, started getting together to play Gypsy Jazz tunes with Livingston jazz guitarist Dave Sullivan. Their casual "just for fun" jamming led to local gigs. They became passionate about playing the style, attending many Gypsy Jazz events and workshops. Now a quartet, with Bozeman jazz bassist Mike Carey adding his great groove to the group's swinging sound, Montana Manouche enjoys an active performing schedule, playing concerts, private events, and swing dances. They play a few original tunes, but their repertoire consists mainly of the compositions of Django Reinhardt and his American contemporaries.



"Montana Manouche did exactly what they said they would do and the music was perfect for our wedding at 320 Ranch. Don't hesitate to hire them and relax because you won't have to worry about anything."

"Thank you so much for your amazing musical performance at our wedding!  It was so special to have you guys there with us & you sounded so WONDERFUL!" 

"Thank you so much for providing the wonderful music. Our patrons raved about it." -Sarah Russell, Executive Director, Carbon County Historical Society and Museum (Bootleggers Ball, October 2017)

"A huge thank you to you and the band for making our day even more unforgettable. The music was amazing and we had so many compliments."

"Montana Manouche played to a standing-room-only crowd at the Library, who were there not only to learn more about the talented Django Reinhardt but to hear the superb musicianship of the group. . . beautiful violin, gypsy jazz guitars, stand-up bass, and tap-your-feet singing. Toddlers, students, jazz fans, seniors, and fellow musicians all enjoyed a night of great gypsy jazz music. How lucky we are to have Montana Manouche in Bozeman!"

"My wife and I organized a French-themed summer party and invited lots of good friends. We had heard Montana Manouche play in town and invited them to play for our party. This was a great move. The music was spectacular and provided a fantastic background to the event. All our guests were very impressed and pleasantly entertained with their wonderful music. This is a great group that would make Django Reinhardt proud. We are luck to have such great group here in Montana.

Here's our CD review from the Winter issue of the Lively Times "State of the Arts" newsletter:  "This Bozeman-Livingston-area band plays Gypsy jazz, and from the outset this self-titled album jumps.  The musicians are long-time pickers and accomplished alums of many musical endeavors who have been together of several years.  Nancy and Ray Padilla (violin and rhythm guitar respectively) are joined by Dave Sullivan, lead guitar, Jerry Linn, upright bass and vocals, and Ann Dickensheets, vocals.  Together, they offer tons of tight instrumental work to complement Dickensheet's trilly soprano, luring us onto the dance floor.  Because this type of jazz started mostly in France, it was called "manouche jazz" or "jazz manouche."  It zeroes in on the repertoire of famed Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, who together formed the popular Hot Club of France in the '30s.  These Montana purveyors of the genre know how to play it, too.  Sullivan says he loves playing Gypsy jazz because of its "honestly, European flavor and upbeat tempo."  And - wait - there's no drummer!  Not necessary, folks.  Linn and Ray Padilla marshal the meter just fine, thank you.  Ray utilizes that certain guitar strum, or "la pompe." that is endemic to Gypsy jazz, making it swing."

"Montana Manouche played for a crowded loud party and worked so well with the situation. People loved the music. It was perfect for a group that spanned 20s to 80s in age. Great musicians and very professional!"

"We had a fantastic turnout for Montana Manouche outside on the lawn at the Library on a lovely summer evening.  And it's no wonder; their music is enjoyable for all ages with its feel good, toe-tapping, sophisticated, yet fun for all, sound!  They are a pleasure to watch!"

We'd love to hear from you!  Please sign up for our email list (signup form is on our home page) so we can keep you updated on our upcoming performances and other Gypsy Jazz happenings in our area.