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Gypsy Jazz
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Robin Katz

PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rythem in gypsy jazz is called le pomp. It is not a simple boom chic played with regular cord voicings but rather a refined and difficult art form that utilses cord voicings that are local to gypsy jazz. These voicings have their roots in the way in which Django was forced, due to his disability, to construct cords, and they are now the norm for all gypsy style jazz guitarists to use in order to get that authentic sound. The rythem is not a trad jazz 4/4 boom chic, retro, banjoesque comping but rather a hip and modern groove that, and I am speaking from experiance having been to France to learn playing with gypsies, is increadably challanging and yet rewarding. There is a huge scope for sensitive nuances whilst playing gypsy pomp, and there are many players that dedicate themselves just to playing rythem, these players are often amongst the most respected players, for example listen to Hono Winterstien comping for Birelli Lagrene on Birelli's latest album 'Move', or Nouche Rosenberg who plays in the Rosenberg trio.

There are a lot of amazing players in this style, among my favorats are Birelli Lagrene, Angelo Debarre, Samson Schmitt, Rittary Ganguanetti, Rodolphe Raphalli, Boulou Ferre, Stephane Wremble, Serge Krief, Stockelo Rosenberg, Jimmy Rosenberg...................

However in the gypsy world it is Birelli Lagrene that is like the pope to this mass of Cardinals, he has been described as the second Django.

The guitars used are Selmer, macafferies, almost always copies of the origionals that Django used to play, however often very good copies. Luthiers to look out for include Dupont, Favino, Oliver Marin, Rob Aylward, Micheal Collins, Di Moro and Stephane Hall. The distinctive sound of gypsy jazz comes from a number of factors;

1) the guitar with its oval or d hole, high action and raised bridge.

2) Pure steel strings like Argenties made by Savarez, cheap and often faulty these strings don't last long but are ensential in getting the right sound.

3) Technique, like flamenco or classical guitar playing the secret is all in the right hand. The hand is raised off the bridge and the wrist bent alowing for a bouncy attack that uses alot of downward strokes, the hand is always relaxed and the action come mainly from the wrist. The pick used is always totaly riggid and often as thick as 5mm, traditionaly a thick peice of tortoise shell could be used, today however a company called wegen makes picks from a substance similar to what dentists use for white fillings, the 3mm big stubby I use is regarded by some as a rather puney 'mediator'.

In awnser to your question on what scales Django used, I would say that he used all of them. Django heard his phrases rather than theorised them, in fact he would have failed grade 1 music because he was totaly illiterate. Django constructed his approach to soloing from a basis of arpeggios and had a perticular way of linking major and minor arpegios via diminished and half diminished runs (the gypsy tonal aesthetic), yet cromatic elements, flatened fiths, lydian notes and pentatonics where all used, because he heard them.
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Joined: 02 Mar 2005
Posts: 1
Location: Raleigh NC

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:36 am    Post subject: bireli lagrene Reply with quote

Very Happy

Just got the new Bireli Lagrene CD Gipsy Project "Move" wow ! If anyone wants to be educated in gipsy jazz genre Bireli is the Master in my opinion.
He played for my college when I went to school for music and he blew me away then and he still does every time I hear him. I have become a much better player since college and heard them all Bireli is the finest guitarest I have ever heard. And by the way he can play any style he wants to and he is a awesome bassist on the level of the man Jaco. Thats a fact. Bireli gipsy project dvd (oh my goodness) is the bomb. You will not be disapointed the dude is a prodegy he has it he is the spirit of Djano alive right now.

Rich O
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How inspiring - I love Django to bits, but I am ignorant about other gipsy jazz. I'll have to check out what his heirs are up to. It would be intersting to hear what gipsy jazz guitar sounds like played by proponents with completely functional fretting hands. Actually, come to think of it the word I'm looking for is frightening.

Thanks for the recommendations. However, as a straight American style modern jazzer, I'll stay away from playing the music - that's the study of a lifetime!
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Robin Katz

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Move is an absolutly awsome album, remaining true to the django tradition yet totaly modern, Bireli's lines are steeped in risk taking. He is my favorate guitarist. If you are interested in gypsy jazz you might want to cheak out the festival of Samois sur seine which happens every year in june just south of Paris where Django lived and is burried. Each year gypsys and 'gadjos' alike flock to jam al night around camp fires drinking red wine and generally having a good time. The level of musicianship is often fightaning with some really sophisticated sessions taking place, I have been 2 years in a row now and profess its absolute brilliance.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just thought I would share this gypsy jazz playing info on style.

They style of picking requires a bent wrist (unless your wrist is huge like Bireli, and then it don't matter).

So hold out your arm, let your hand drop, and then turn it inwards to pick your strings.

That is the gypsy arm stance. It gives you the best attcak pressure.

Any comments welcome Smile
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Joined: 20 Mar 2005
Posts: 4
Location: Tallahassee, FL

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Horowitz(who is a Berklee grad and working on a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology at UW Seatle) has written the most in-depth look at the Gypsy Jazz right hand technique out there. You can get more information and/or buy the book (called "Gypsy Picking" incidently) at his website
Keep Swingin!
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