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Bireli Lagrene and Gypsy Project: Belleville

Bireli Lagrene is one of the most accomplished jazz guitarists active today. His career, which started around the age of 10, has included performances with some of the world’s top musicians. He has shared the stage with fusion guitarist Larry Coryell, fretless bass pioneer Jaco Pastorius, and accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano. Bireli is a master of numerous styles including bebop, fusion, and swing. He is also a multi instrumentalist with phenomenal skill on guitar (electric and acoustic), electric bass, and drums.

However, Bireli’s musical roots lie in the music of Django Reinhardt. Like most Sinti children, he was immersed in Django’s music from a very young age. While growing up in the Gypsy camps of the Alsace region of Eastern France, he developed incredible technical and improvisational skill. His talent was quickly recognized, resulting in performances across Europe as a young as age 10.

This video shows Bireli playing in the traditional Django style. Watch his right hand closely, it is THE best example of the powerful Gypsy Picking technique. Bireli’s solo meets the high standard you’d expect from a master. This video also gives us a good look at his virtuosic comping beyond violinist Florin Niculescu’s solo. Bireli uses a mix of chord punches, rhythmic syncopations, counter melodies, and tremolos to create excitement behind the soloist.

For more Bireli Lagrene video see his excellent DVDs: Live in Paris, Live a Vienne, Super Guitar Trio and the documentary The Django Legacy.

Also check out Bireli Largene’s CDs: Move, Gypsy Project, Gypsy Project and Freinds, Routes to Django and Bireli Swing ’81 2 CDs, Live at Carnegie Hall – A Tribute to Django Reinhardt 2 CDs, New York Tango, Special Guests, Blue Eyes, Live in Marciac, My Favorite Django, Gipsy Feeling, Zum Trotz, Jimmy, Biréli & Angelo, Broadway Blues and Teresa 2 CDs, Live in Italy and Honestly 2 CDs.

From the collection of Ted Gottsegen

The video archive is dedicated to Mary Honcoop. She generously shared her large collection of Gypsy videos with nearly anyone who asked. The video archive aims to continue her generosity now that she is gone.

The Video Archive is devoted surviving video of Django Reinhardt and other masters of the Gypsy jazz genre. If you enjoy these videos consider making a donation.

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