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Jazz manouche

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I posted this in the "Make A Jazz Noise Here" thread, but thought it might be nice to have a thread dedicated to this music where I'll update with representative CDs and new discoveries.  I hope others will do the same.

An sub-genre of jazz that I find myself becoming more and more interested in is “Gypsy Jazz”, also known as Gypsy Swing, Jazz manouche – and generally considered invented and popularized by Django Reinhardt and a few others in the 1930s-1950s, primarily in Europe, specifically in Paris.

The style is characterized by the drumless five or six piece combo with an instrumentation usually containing a lead guitar, two rhythm guitars, violin or accordion and bass.  Reinhardt’s Quintette du Hot Club de France is one of the most famous exponents of this music, but there were many others such as brothers Baro, Sarane, and Matelo Ferret and Reinhardt's own brother Joseph "Nin-Nin" Reinhardt.   The classic makeup of Reinhardt’s group is well known and included jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

Outside of France, the music was expressed in several Baltic states, Romania and Macedonia especially.

The music is typified by a strong rhythm drive provided by the two rhythm guitars and fast runs by the lead guitar often combining a jazz/swing feel within a dark, chromatic harmonic and melodic context.

Although Django Reinhardt died in 1953, the music has remained popular and spawned many musicians who are active today.

One is the teenage prodigy, Biréli Lagrène, who at age 13 played such a convincing version of the Reinhardt style that expert aficionados had trouble telling the difference between his debut recording, Routes to Django, and the Reinhardt originals.  He later went into electric fusion and departed from the Reinhardt style but has returned to his roots; now with a unique voice and no longer merely a Reinhardt imitator.

Along with Biréli Lagrène, Tim Kliphuis, Stochelo Rosenberg, Joscho Stephan and Angelo Debarre are other active Gypsy Jazz stylists today.

The Benelux countries, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary and Romania all have bands performing this music, with their own regional twists.  Originally the Hungarian and Romania bands employed the traditional instruments kobza and cimbalom but some recent manifestations of this music have replaced them with electric guitar and synthesizers creating a kind fusion jazz heavily influenced by the older music.  However, a revivalist school has chosen to keep the violin, accordion, fiddle and saxophone of the original bands.

The guitar preferred by these groups is one of special construction first made by the French instrument maker, Selmer – but who ceased manufacturing the guitar in 1952.  The original guitars are very rare and  quite expensive but several luthiers are making very good replicas of the Selmer design.

The guitars are large, and broad shouldered with a distinctive sound hole, either a wide-mouthed “D” shape or a smaller vertical oval.  The guitars with the D-shaped sound hole are mostly used by the rhythm guitarists and the small oval sound holed guitars used by the lead players.  But both guitars are known for their loud projection, unique tone and ability to cut through large ensembles.

JWC Guitars is a well known maker and has a nice gallery on their website.

Here’s another website devoted to Gypsy Jazz that is a kind of one-stop-shop for CDs, books and even instruments.  There is also a forum with fairly active participation.

I have always been interested in this music, but only lately have I made a concerted effort to track down some recordings by other bands beyond the Django Reinhardt originals and Lagrène tracks.

I think anyone interested in jazz guitar would enjoy this music.


A representative clip of the classic group and style - Romane, great manouche guitarist.  The first minute+ is devoted to a bass solo but at around 1:30 Romane begins his solo.  Unfortunately, the sync is off and the video does not match the audio, but this is worth viewing, nonetheless.

Romane et Stochelo Rosenberg

A nice slip featuring Stochelo Rosenberg, one of three brothers in this genre, accompanied by Romane.

Rosenberg Trio - Nuages

A classic Django song very well done by the Rosernberg Trio.

Django doing the same song

Very interesting and enjoyable stuff. I just checked out your links on my laptop, so I'll have to listen again on a better sound system. (The bass solo is reduced to a series of twangs and clacks on this little speaker.)

All of the clips have what I'd consider a swing groove.  Is that a required element of manouche, or just a coincidence with these samples?


--- Quote from: Szykniej on January 13, 2011, 11:30:11 AM ---Very interesting and enjoyable stuff. I just checked out your links on my laptop, so I'll have to listen again on a better sound system. (The bass solo is reduced to a series of twangs and clacks on this little speaker.)

All of the clips have what I'd consider a swing groove.  Is that a required element of manouche, or just a coincidence with these samples?

--- End quote ---

The "swing groove" is intregral to this style.  It was an outgrowth of the swing music of the 1930s, but took on a style of its own due to the difference in harmonic and cultural influences.  Having said that, manouche is not limited to the swing sound, but can take on a more eastern European sound when done by musicians from Hungary, Romania or Macedonia, or even verging on flamenco - but the most characterisitc style is swing.

I'm glad you enjoyed it - I find this music very interesting.

Here's a quote from a very informative post on a Gypsy Jazz forum:

--- Quote ---In order to correctly understand the current state of jazz manouche, it's important that we get a brief, generational family tree. Currently there are four generations of Gypsy Jazz guitarists going back to Django's era. They are as follows:

The first generation are contemporaries of Django, but are limited to those guitarists who were active professionally while he was still alive, but limited to those whose actually recorded during Django's reign. There are guitarists who were indeed active during this period and also recorded, but they simply didn't come into their own to receive what little recognition they got. Tchan-Tchou would be a perfect example. Note: These are not complete lists, general, known players names are used (and some obscure ones as well)

The first generation, early 1930's to the early 1950's: Matelo, Baro, Sarane and Challain Ferret, Eugene Vees, Henri Crolla, Jacques Montagne, Joseph Reinhardt, Gusti Malha, Leo Slab, Lousson Baumgartner, Didi Duprat.

The second generation, mid to late 1950's through the early 1970's: Mondine Garcia, Ninine Garcia, Chatou Garcia, Piton Reinhardt, Spatzo Adel, Niglo Adel, Vivian Villerstein, Maurice Ferret, Joseph Pouville, Tchan-Tchou, Bousquet, Cardi, Schnuckenack Reinhardt, Häns'che Weiss, Romansj, Laro Sollero, Angelo, René Maihles, Babik Reinhardt

The third generation, mid 1970's through the mid to late 1980's - Dorado Schmitt, Tchavolo Schmitt, Mandino Reinhardt, Hono Winterstein, Bireli Lagrene, Mito Loeffler, Titi Winterstein, Romane, Laurent Bajata, Martin Weiss, Traubeli Weiss, Romani Weiss, Mike Reinhardt, Samson Reinhardt, Coco Reinhardt, Tchouta Adel, Jeannot "Titotte" Mahla, Raphael Fays, Fapy Lafertin

The fourth generation, late 1980's to the present: Jimmy Rosenberg, Samson Schmitt, Dino Mehrstein, Yorgui Loeffler, Dallas Baumgartner, Mundine Garcia, Rocky Garcia, Rocky Fallone, Noe Reinhardt, Moreno, Angelo Debarre, David Reinhardt, Mano Drey, Kussi Weiss, Tchocolo Winterstein, Doudou Cuillierre.

Again, this list is by no means exhaustive, just enough to give you an idea as to who came onto the scene at what point. You should also be able to tell, by where the players come from, who their teachers were. You can begin to draw a picture of how the music was handed down through the generations.
--- End quote ---

If I follow thorugh with it, I will try to add clips and/or CD suggestions for as many of these musicians as I can find.


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