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Django and other Guitarists

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
edited April 2006 in History Posts: 5,764
Ted and I were talking the other day about Django recording with other guitar soloists. Off the top of our heads neither of us could think of a single recording in which another guitarist took a solo.

What does that say about Django?

1) He was so well respected and feared that no one would dare ever try?

2) He was such a ego maniac that he wouldn't let anyone else try?

3) Neither of the above...it's just a fluke.

We know that many of Django's sideman (i.e., Baro, Matelo, Lousson, etc.) could solo. But never did so on record. We also now Django jammed with Oscar Aleman....maybe if they had recorded we'd have a least one example of Django trading solos with another guitarist.

What do people think?

'm
«13

Comments

  • AndoAndo South Bend, INModerator
    Posts: 319
    Marketing? No one took a solo because Django and Stephane got top billing?

    Ego could be a factor, but not necessarily guitar-prowess ego. Django was the older brother, the prince. Joseph had to carry his guitar. Maybe it was a status thing unrelated to music.

    .01
  • pdaiglepdaigle Montreal, QCNew
    Posts: 233
    I think it may have to do with Django's ego...

    On the DVD about Grappelli's life, Stephane relates an evening where Django was refusing to get on stage because they had announced Stephane's name before his own...this type of egocentric behavior tells me that Django could very well have refused to have another guitar solist record (or even share the stage?) with him.
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    I have read that Django never let Baro solo even though he was a great solo player – as we know from later recordings. I would think that Django had a bit of a head on him and didn't want to lose the lime light.

    My2¢
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Posts: 611
    Well, I suspect that there are two different scenarios here: the gig and the jam. I'd suspect that most of the gypsies at that time were simply too in awe of Django to feel comfortable soloing in public, add Django's supposed ego to the mix and you have a pretty stiffling situation for most any musician. Michael brings up the point of Django and Oscar, Delauney mentions jam sessions between Baro, Matelo and Django. I'm sure jamming was much different than a gig and probably much more open.
  • Posts: 101
    Doesn't Delauney also quote Joseph as saying that before Django made it big everyone used to solo?
  • kimmokimmo Helsinki, Finland✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 158
    Josh Hegg wrote:
    I have read that Django never let Baro solo even though he was a great solo player – as we know from later recordings.

    Actually, it is probably Baro, who takes solos and Django plays rhythm in Brise Napolitaine from the 1933 session of Guerino et son orchestre musette de la boîte à matelots, although some earlier sleeve notes have suggested vice versa. I know, it is controversial and we never know for sure - and anyway it's before QHCF and it certainly isn't jazz.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,161
    Ted and I were talking the other day about Django recording with other guitar soloists. Off the top of our heads neither of us could think of a single recording in which another guitarist took a solo.
    I think there are probably several reasons.
    1) He was so well respected and feared that no one would dare ever try?
    There is no doubt Django was considered to be the best guitarist of the time and I think there was a reluctance for any other guitarist to be put on record playing with him thereby allowing some very immediate and inevitably negative comparisons. Baro has been quoted as admitting he was intimidated by Django's creativity and if he felt that way, what must the rest have thought? This "respect/fear" would have been even greater amongst the Gypsies where he was definitely God and it would have almost been an act of sacrilege to try to compete with him. However, as Ted says I am sure they jammed together in an informal manner each taking a solo or two.
    2) He was such a ego maniac that he wouldn't let anyone else try?
    Django believed he was the best guitarist in the world and could be very petulant and childish. Although he often openly expressed great admiration for other musicians (he always carried a photo of Dizzy Gillespie with him), I do not ever remember reading anything positive he said about another guitarist. I believe that to Django, solo guitar playing started and finished with him. Johnny Smith said Django was the "Father of the Jazz Guitar" and that's what Django thought too.
    3) Neither of the above...it's just a fluke.
    No there was one other major factor. Guitar duets/summits were simply not fashionable at the time. That is something that developed much later. There were a few duets around but not really at the top level. How many other really top guitarists of the time were recorded soloing together (Lang & Johnson excepted). Baro, Sarane and Matelo often recorded together but how often did they trade solos on the same track?

    Django was a jazz musician and in jazz groups generally only one soloist performed on a particular instrument. The occasional exception was a wind instrument, particular the sax, but not something like a guitar which was still considered a secondary in jazz essentially concerned with rhythm.

    Django was the big selling guitarist of the time and record producers wanted him soloing and not have his efforts "diluted" with a much lesser known performer.
    We know that many of Django's sideman (i.e., Baro, Matelo, Lousson, etc.) could solo. But never did so on record. We also now Django jammed with Oscar Aleman....maybe if they had recorded we'd have a least one example of Django trading solos with another guitarist.
    The truth is that probably only fanatical guitar lovers want to listen to a series of guitar solos from a group of different players. Most people just want to hear one guitar solo and then something from other instruments.
  • Posts: 4
    With respect to the recorded legacy, we should also take into account the limitations of recording techniques and time available for each track for the QHCF.

    If Steph played the head, took a solo, then Django and another guitarist soloed; there probably wouldn't be sufficient time for any of the musicians to develop a good solo. Any such take would probably have to be very arranged. Also such an interpretation would differ greatly from the 'successful' formula and sound of the group and as such the record label would probably not be keen.

    How successful artistically and commercially were the sides featuring Steph and Eddie South?

    I think that it is interesting that Django rarely used the other guitars in the arrangements as a counter point but this could be due to recording limitations?
  • Posts: 101
    With respect to the recorded legacy, we should also take into account the limitations of recording techniques and time available for each track for the QHCF.

    That's actually a very good point, as I believe they often were using a single mic, so Django was seated a bit closer so his solos were more pronounced.

    That would by default seem to prevent the sidemen/rhythm players from soloing, even if that was desired, as the volume would be too low.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,161
    With respect to the recorded legacy, we should also take into account the limitations of recording techniques and time available for each track for the QHCF.

    That's actually a very good point, as I believe they often were using a single mic, so Django was seated a bit closer so his solos were more pronounced.

    That would by default seem to prevent the sidemen/rhythm players from soloing, even if that was desired, as the volume would be too low.
    But remember Django also played rhythm so he could not have been that much closer as the photo below illustrates. I think if they had wanted to have two solo guitarists on the same track they could have done it even in those basic recording conditions. The guitarist playing rhythm could have turned away from the mic for example and the soloist towards it.

    I love this photo of the HCQ actually recording. No overdubs, no double tracking, no technical wizardry, just pure spontaneous music, entirely created by the musicians themselves.
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