Says right here in our database that Sami Arefin started attending Django Camp in 2011. Sounds about right. He was still a music student back then, and with a wee assist from the instructors he worked with here, Sami quickly established himself as the resident expert on Gypsy jazz at Towson State in Baltimore. Now he and a small posse of Djangophiles (Michael Joseph Harris, Zach Serleth, Matt Andrews…) serve the same role for Charm City at large, where they are responsible for having created quite “a scene.” At last count Sami was playing with Ultrafaux, Hot Club of Baltimore, and this new outfit, the Baltimore Django Collective.
A versatile guitarist, Sami plays trad jazz with the Tongue in Cheek Jazz Band and goes straight ahead with the Ed Hrybyk Quartet. But those with an ear (or an eye—watch that right hand) for jazz manouche will see Sami’s Django-roots poking through everything he touches. Like on this performance with Ed Hrybyk’s, Bright Moments. From the opening string-bend at 1:28 Sami gives the unsuspecting audience a one-minute, ten-second demo of Gypsy jazz lead guitar.
For a couple of years Sami was our good-will ambassador to slow jammers and newcomers. In that capacity he corresponded, counselled and jammed with countless newcomers to Django in June, helping them find their way and their peeps as they got accustomed to this genre and this event. Back in 2015 we asked him to prepare some videos for Gypsy jazz novices, walking them through that year’s Core Repertoire. You can still find those on youtube by searching for “Getting Ready For Django in June, Arefin.” Here he walks you, slowly, through both the melody and chords to Django’s, “Swing 42.” Come work with Sami at DiJ 2019 and he’ll walk, run or skip you through pretty much anything you’d like.