The music of Alfonso Ponticelli & Swing Gitan is a vibrant, upbeat and passionate blend of American Jazz, Gypsy jazz, Flamenco and world folk music threaded together through virtuostic improvisation. Composer and band leader Ponticelli invites some of Chicago’s top talent for musical conversation and an always lively dose of some of the best spontaneous co-arranging, with top artists including the current lineup:
John Bany, bass; Eric Schneider, clarinet/sax; Steve Gibons, violin; Bob Rummage, drums; Rami Gabriel, oud/guitar; Alex Udvary, cimbalom.
A multi-instrumentalist, Ponticelli won the 1994 U.S. National Mountain Dulcimer Championship and continues to perform solo mountain dulcimer and guitar. He has played both banjo and guitar with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and was invited to perform solo didgeridoo at the Chicago Symphony Center. Ponticelli has collaborated in Chicago with Arabic, Irish, bluegrass, Gypsy, Romanian and many other traditional folk musicians. Ponticelli has had the honor of performing at Chicago’s Millennium Park on its opening night as well as at every major museum in Chicago.
Ponticelli is the 2009 recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci award for outstanding achievement in performing arts from Order Sons of Italy in America and holds a B.M. in Jazz Studies from DePaul University. Ponticelli has been to Cordoba, Spain (1994) to study with the great flamenco guitarists Rafael Riqueni and Manolo Sanlucar, New Mexico to study with Chuscales and Pedro Cortes and has had the great flamenco singer and guitarist Pansequito join his band for two years. He has performed at the Iridium in New York City where Les Paul invited Alfonso to play as a special guest with his trio.
Ponticelli shares his education and love of music by teaching workshops at many festivals, including 13 years at the Midwest Gypsy Swing Fest in Madison, Wisconsin. He introduced Gypsy jazz to Chicago in the 1990s, when he began teaching a weekly Django-style class at the renowned Old Town School of Folk Music, where he has taught for 16 years.
Ponticelli has shared his music at many prestigious festivals, including the Django Reinhardt festival in Samois, France, DjangoFest Northwest, Gypsy Jazz fests in New York City, Denver, CO., and extensively throughout the Midwest. Some of his students have joined his band and traveled to these fests performing with his band. Alfonso Ponticelli has collaborated with many Chicago institutions for 14 years to present the great culture of the Roma/Gypsy people through music with his annual Chicago Gypsy Jazz festival.