Gypsy jazz blog 2

Welcome to gypsy jazz blog No 2 , In case you’ve just wandered across this one ,  I’m a gypsyjazzaholic. I run my own Trio (TMA025) and if you haven’t read the first one, you can check it out here (what is gypsy jazz ).

Okay, moving on from the first blog which covered the origin of the music, beginning with the legendary gypsy guitarist, Django Reinhardt (1910 ? 1953), I’d like to talk a little about the players that surrounded him.

In the classic Quintette of the Hot Club of France, there was the great French jazz violinist, Stephane Grappelli, taking equal melodies and solos next to Django.

Apart from various bass-players, the rhythm section was fattened up considerably with the unique idea of having two rhythm guitar players. The style of accompaniment that Django came up with, is generally and amusingly referred to as ‘la pompe’ (the pump !). It was totally driving and created a formidable backbeat for Django and Stephane. Innovative at the time because every group would usually incorporate drums. It was deceptively easy sounding but if you were a guitarist, very difficult to nail accurately.

For many years, Django’s brother Joseph held position as one half of the rhythm section. The other chair was held by a few different gypsy players. Although at many times they were alternated between one of three brothers from the Ferret ( pronounced Fer-ray ) family, Baro, Matelo and Sarane.

All the Ferrets and Joseph were superb soloists and band leaders in their own right and forged successful careers as time went on. More importantly, Django was held in such high esteem as a player, composer and arranger that they were all honoured to act in the role of the rhythm section.

In my Trio ( TMA025 ) the rhythm sound/accent is very important to us; we like to think that we’re carrying on the tradition set down all those years ago. In all honesty, I practise ‘la pompe’ as much as the solo stuff ! Having provided rhythm guitar for some of the finest gypsy players in the world, I totally respect it as an art-form in itself.

Whether the trio are background at a wedding or more up-front, like at a jazz club or festival, the attention to detail is the same. Clients get the same driving, hypnotic pulse. It’s one of the reasons why gypsy jazz is more popular today than it ever has been.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading !

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