Arts and Entertainment

Ensemble to play music inspired by a legendary guitarist

Violinist Julian Smedley, guitarist Greg Ruby, guitarist Neil Andersson and bassist Spencer Hoveskeland will play at the Blue Heron Saturday. - Courtesy Photo
Violinist Julian Smedley, guitarist Greg Ruby, guitarist Neil Andersson and bassist Spencer Hoveskeland will play at the Blue Heron Saturday.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Greg Ruby Quartet, an ensemble that plays music inspired by virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt, is coming to town on Saturday for a concert at the Blue Heron Arts Center.

The group plays upbeat Brazilian music, old-time fiddle tunes, waltzes, New Orleans jazz and traditional Gypsy music.

Ruby formed his quartet in 2010 to further explore his passion for composing and playing music in Reinhardt’s distinctive musical style.

“Every guitar player since has been influenced by Django,” he said, referring to the renowned Romani musician, who died in 1953. “He was the first real guitar hero. His tone, his ideas, his phrasing, his technique are unmatched. He had a profound sense of musicality before amplification became the norm.”

Ruby is a well-known presence in the “hot club” jazz scene. His most recent album, “Look Both Ways,” included 12 original compositions and reached the top of the Roots Music Review’s jazz chart. As a member of the esteemed group Pearl Django, Ruby spent five years performing and touring throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and appeared with the group at the prestigious Django Reinhardt Festival in France.

Ruby has enlisted a stellar group of musicians for his quartet.

Julian Smedley, a violinist who performs gypsy jazz, swing, klezmer and traditional fiddle styles, is also an accomplished singer, arranger and recording engineer. He has recorded and performed all over the world.

Neil Andersson, a guitarist, started playing guitar in high school and in 1964 joined the famous Northwest rock group The Wailers. As a guitarist, he has played in many groups, including Pearl Django.

Spencer Hoveskeland, a bassist, currently performs, tours and records with his cellist wife Tracy in the Bottom Line Duo. They have toured the world together, playing venues including Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.


The Greg Ruby Quartet will play at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Blue Heron. Tickets, $10 to $17, are being sold at, the Heron’s Nest and the Vashon Bookshop. Or call 463-5131.



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