Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Stephan's: Bio

A LITTLE ABOUT STEPHAN AND GYPSY JAZZ! 

Stephan Dudash is a 5-string violist—the Big Fiddle with five strings (created by David Burgess). His music will move you, swing you to your feet,  and fill your heart with romance with his own brand of gypsy violin music. Whether it's popular love songs, standards or some of Stephan’s own sizzling compositions, you'll wonder why you've never heard these songs done on a string instrument before. Born in Mankato, MN to a Hungarian father and an American-born Celtic mother, he tinkered on the piano until he discovered violin at age 11. Just two years later he was attending Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan where he was privately and orchestrally trained. At age 15, he started his professional career in a band headed by Chris Brubeck, son of jazz piano virtuoso Dave Brubeck. Since then he has performed all over the world with a list of greats including: Olivia Newton-John, Shania Twain, Janie Fricke and most recently specializing in Gypsy Jazz music touring with the John Jorgenson Quintet. Besides fiddling, Stephan is no stranger to vocalizing and is also known to play mandolin, guitar, bass guitar and hand percussion. Stephan has just finished his third CD, 'Gypsy Quest'

Stephan Dudash

SOME FACTS ABUT STEPHAN!

  Born May 11 & raised in Mankato, MN, on a hillside overlooking the Blue Earth & Minnesota Rivers.

 ♫  Around age 5, started tinkering on the piano until age 11 when I had my first piano lesson. Played my first round of golf at age 10. Did some serious listening to Bing Crosby & West Side Story.

  Switched to violin 6 months later (the same year the Beatles hit the USA). Received a box of 45s from my Aunt Patty containing numerous hits from the 1950s and early 60s. 

  Ages 13-16, I attended Interlochen Arts Academy as a violin major (while being exposed to and becoming a big fan of many other stylesof music . . . Jimmy Hendrix, Cream, Frank Zappa, Buddy Rich, Stephane Grapelli and others)

  At Interlochen, I started playing pop/rock music with Dave Brubeck's son, Chris, and subsequently did some touring with Dave whose band members included sax greats Gerry Mulligan & Paul Desmond.

  To make a long story short, I moved from Minnesota to Ann Arbor, MI, back to Minnesota, to Boston, MA; to Kankakee (Stelle), IL; to Dallas, TX; to Nashville, TN, where I now reside with my lovely wife, Linda, in a beautiful log house in the country.

♫  During all that moving, I managed to get married; have a son (Jaime David Dudash), get divorced; get remarried; order my David Burgess 5 String Viola, and perform with the likes of: the band New Heavenly Blue, The Bone Band, Olivia Newton-John, the band Good Thunder, Billy Bob's Texas house band, the band Palomino, the band Danger in the Air, Opryland USA, the McCarter Sisters, the Grand Old Opry, Janie Fricke, the Ryman Auditorium (Always . . . Patsy Cline & Lost Highway shows), Shania Twain, and Bada Bing Bada Boom. WHEW! Besides touring with the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble (my contributions can be heard on the CDs, "All the Rage" & "Bach, Beatles & Bluegrass"), I most recently have been playing some hot gypsy jazz with guitar virtuoso, John Jorgensen.

  Special lifetime of thanks to: God, for all things good including life itself; my parents, Charlie and Helen, for raising me and all their love and support; my son Jaime, for being such a wonderful human being; my wife, Linda, for doing more for me than is reasonably expected and her continued love in spite of my shortcomings.

A LITTLE ABOUT GYPSY JAZZ!

Gypsy jazz (also known as "Gypsy Swing") is an idiom often said to have been started by guitarist Jean "Django" Reinhardt in the 1930s. Because its origins are largely in France it is often called by the French name, "Jazz manouche," or alternatively, "manouche jazz," even in English language sources. Django was foremost among a group of Gypsy guitarists working in and around Paris in the 1930s through the 1950s, a group which also included the brothers Pierre "Baro" Ferret, Etienne "Sarane" Ferret, and Jean "Matelo" Ferret and Reinhardt's brother Joseph "Nin-Nin" Reinhardt.

Many of the musicians in this style worked in Paris in various popular Musette ensembles. The Musette style waltz remains an important component in the Gypsy jazz repertoire. Reinhardt was noted for combining a dark, chromatic Gypsy flavor with the swing articulation of the period. This combination is critical to this style of jazz. In addition to this his approach continues to form the basis for contemporary Gypsy jazz guitar. Reinhardt's most famous group, the Quintette du Hot Club de France, also brought fame to jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

Gypsy jazz, along with traditional Gypsy music, is learned by the passing down of knowledge from older generations. Many Gypsy musicians do not read notated music. It is more common for beginners to spend hours learning and memorizing songs from recordings and gleaning techniques from more experienced players.