Swing Manouche Project was formed in 2005 in Budapest, and they have been performing together in the present formation since 2008. The band is one of the few groups in Hungary who represent the early European branch of jazz known as "manouche swing" or "gypsy jazz", a style current mainly among Sinto gypsy musicians. This musical style is especially popular in France, the Benelux countries, Germany and England, and its greatest representative was the legendary Belgian-gypsy guitarist, Django Reinhardt, who can also be regarded as the creator of the style. He was the first European jazz musician to gain appreciation among Afro-American jazz musicians as well.
The repertoire of Swing Manouche Project includes, apart from compositions by Django Reinhardt, a wide number of jazz standards that have gained acceptance in the genre, together with pieces by contemporary manouche musicians and several of their own compositions. The group intends to recreate the auditory experience characteristic of the most famous representatives of the genre, with the characteristic guitar technique and the use of the special, so-called Selmer-Maccaferi type guitars, but their musical style also displays the influence of Hungarian and Hungarian-gypsy musical traditions.
The members of the group are partly professionally trained, partly self-educated musicians, but manouche jazz has been a self-taught experience for all of them, as this style cannot be found in organised education in Hungary. Probably the only collection of resources available in the Hungarian language, the website jazzmanouche.hu, together with an international collection of links connected to the genre, djangoreinhardt.lap.hu are also edited by a member of the group, Ferenc Illés.
Swing Manouche Project has taken part in several new talent contests, in the autumn of 2006 they have won Third Prize in Belvárosi Lipót Napok, then in May 2007 they have received First Prize in the contest for jazz ensembles organised as part of the 23rd Salgótarján International Dixieland Festival. The prize entailed a tour of concerts in the Visegrád countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) which they undertook in 2008, to great popular acclaim. The group has been a guest of the Salgótarján festival every year since then.
Swing Manouche Project has 150-200 performances a year; besides regular performances in clubs, they also participate in more significant festivals in Hungary (Sziget, Athe Sam, Budapest Gypsy Festival, Louis Armstrong Festival in Bánk, Bohém Festival, etc).
The group also appears regularly in Hungarian printed and electronic media; characteristically, all of the more significant national media have referred to Swing Manouche Project when commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Django Reinhardt (23 January, 2010).
László Varga - guitar
Ferenc Illés - guitar
Viktor Jakab - guitar
Balázs Földváry - double bass