Sami Arefin started attending Django Camp in 2011 while still a music student at Goucher College in Baltimore, where he quickly established himself as the resident expert on Gypsy jazz. Now he and a small posse of Djangophile serve the same role for Charm City at large, where they are responsible for having created quite “a scene.” Here’s Sami hard at work with a couple artists from that posse, Zach Serleth and Matt Andrews, playing Django Reinhart’s, “Vette”.
In Baltimore and beyond Sami has shared the stage with a long line of Gypsy jazz artists, many of whom he got to know right here at Django in June: Debi Botos, Max O’Rouke, Dallas Vietty, Jason Anick, Zach Serlet, Lisa Liu. In the video below he and Zach are joined by two more artists we could add to that list: Giacomo Smith (clarinet) and Evan Price (violin). They are performing at the 2019 Charm City Django Jazz Festival, an annual event curated by Michael Joseph Harris of Ultrafaux and Hot Club of Baltimore.
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.” In the video below he walks you, slowly, through both the melody and chords to Django’s, “Swing 42.” During the pandemic Sami started teaching a GJ seminar on zoom twice a month, which we recommend. You can track him down easily on your preferred social media— or right here, this or any year, at Django in June.