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  • fretwear 8:28PM

The Idiomatiques and My Gypsy Jazz Journey Blog Part Deux

ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
edited July 2017 in Welcome
If you want to bypass this and get to Part Deux go here


Though a bit self indulgent I have decided to start a blog about my Gypsy Jazz experience and at this time The Idiomatiques, the band I helped form around 3 yrs ago as we embark on our 2nd album. The reason for the blog is two fold, one I want to share my experience and maybe it will help someone who can relate to what I have gone through, and maybe some of you will respond and offer some tips I may have missed or just offer your own experiences. Or maybe this will be a running blog with just me posting.

I have been playing Gypsy Jazz going on 4 years seriously now and am approaching 60 yrs old (ouch, though the alternative appears worse). I dabbled in it in the past because I owned a Gibson L-4 from around 1920 and eventually got a Saga DM250 for a library project for a music company in Nashville. I thought I knew what Gypsy Jazz sounded like but had learned no actual techniques and had no repertoire. I had heard of Django but my first real influence where the light turned on was Jorgenson’s American Franco Swing. My 2nd biggest influence was seeing a video of Gonzalo, Adrian Moignard and Convert on a Youtube vid

I had no idea music could swing that way, had no idea who these guys were, they looked like aliens dropped from another planet in a nice organic setting and I was hooked.

At this point I should give a bit of background on myself so you have some perspective.
I have been a full time media composer for over 25 yrs, 14 of those writing crime music for “America’s Most Wanted” but have worked on a host of other type of shows from animation to drama to whatever the job needs. Before that I was a full time guitarist having toured with Randy Crawford and Ronnie Laws, did stints with the Pointer Sisters and worked lounges and showrooms in Vegas so I have a musical background which mostly helped me hear, but changing my technique was burdensome and sometimes I revert to bad stuff in pressure situations (mostly wrist dropping).

While doing crime music for the library company in Nashville (Warner) I realized that I thought I could sound like Django, thought being the operative word, and convinced them to sign me on for a project selling Gypsy Jazz music for whatever (around 2007). In my mind when writing I envisioned using the music to sell health plans, food products, pet supplies etc. What I am resonably good at is envisioning music behind picture and through my naivety and belief finished the project. The royalties started to come in, my instincts were correct. I can barely listen to what I did in those days with out cringing, bad La Pompe, poorly executed lines, but I had a basic musicality and vision and the stuff ended up on lots of commercials here in the US and overseas.

Fast forward to 2012, i had added smooth jazz guitar player as a side profession to my composing. I had a few Billboard hits between 2009 and 2011 when I started this endeavor. One song “Ease Up” a reggae inspired tune even made it to #2.


If you follow the link to the next song you can see I created a song “A Day in Paris” for my 3rd album Bleu Horizons. This song went to #5 and is my most consistent playing song even to this day 4 years later. It’s a pseudo Gypsy Jazz song and again as far as Gypsy Jazz is concerned I had no idea what I was doing.

Now that I have some GJ knowledge I have not been able to duplicate its success. Ignorance can indeed be bliss. That said I would not trade another hit from what I have learned on my GJ journey.

In 2013 Warner’s once again asked me to do another GJ library because of the success of the one 6 yrs earlier. This time I decided i would take 3 months out of my life and learn the genre correctly!!!…a….yeah…certainly did not see what was coming.

Goal 1. learn to play somewhat authentically to finish the job. I did that but I of course was rushing through the process. Just for reference I am in my mid 50’s at this time. BTW this is when I got hooked…so the journey starts now. I added goals as I went along not seeing or ever thinking I might reach Goal 4 on this list.

Goal 2. Be able to hold down a gig. I had recently moved to Santa Barbara from LA and hired local players to be on the aforementioned Warner project though they were more newbies to the style than I was. That said they were great musicians willing to learn. From that project I asked if they wanted to form and band. We only needed a rhythm guitarist.
They said yes and as I had recently joined this forum I went searching to see if there happened to be anyone on here from Santa Barbara…Oddly enough “Bones” lived here and was into forming the band. Bone’s though the least accomplished musician in the band knew way more than any of us about GJ and had been Nick Coventry’s (of Black Market Trust) rhythm player a few years back when Nick lived here.
So The Idiomatiques (a name we still suffer with) was formed…
Myself on lead
Bones on rhythm
Kim Collins (local Bass player, singer, whistler and college jazz professor) on bass
Brian Mann-(one of America’s top accordion players, was Larry Carlton’s keyboard player for 5 yrs and has worked with Michael Jackson, David Lee Roth, Kenny Loggins etc) on accordion.
We started little gigs (replaced Bone’s with George Quirin when Bone’s bones started hurting) and this has grown to a constant 2 days a month gig going on 2 yrs now, a few concerts up and down California and the house jam band for Saturday June 17th at the Los Angeles Django Reinhardt festival.

Goal 3. not embarrass myself playing with good Gypsy Jazz players…after about 3 yrs I felt I could handle this.

Goal 4. Get to world class level…this is still a work in progress, and not a level I thought I could ever attain, but I can touch it on certain days and they are becoming more consistent. Consistentcey has been the biggest obstacle, some days it flows and other days I can’t find it. I believe it is a by product of the style not being ingrained in me at a younger age. The flip side is I have many influences from my former days as a pop jazz guitarist that are different from most GJ players and have learned to incorporate much of that.

I’ll continue with this blog at a later date…happy to hear of other’s experiences.
BucoMichaelHorowitzMcQterrassiersteffoJosechikyNylonDaveBill Da Costa WilliamsCharles Meadowspickitjohnand 1 other.


  • edited May 2017
    Scoredog wrote: »
    My 2nd biggest influence was seeing a video of Gonzalo, Adrian Moignard and Convert on a Youtube vid

    I had no idea music could swing that way, had no idea who these guys were, they looked like aliens dropped from another planet in a nice organic setting and I was hooked.

    And you still haven't booked your tickets to DiJ?

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • terrassierterrassier France AJL 503 XO
    I find that same video inspirational, unattainable, but still inspirational.
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Buco wrote: »
    Scoredog wrote: »
    My 2nd biggest influence was seeing a video of Gonzalo, Adrian Moignard and Convert on a Youtube vid

    I had no idea music could swing that way, had no idea who these guys were, they looked like aliens dropped from another planet in a nice organic setting and I was hooked.

    And you still haven't booked your tickets to DiJ?

    I'd like to but we are supposed to be playing the Los Angeles Django Reinhardt festival the same weekend.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Hey fun stuff SDog!
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Really enjoyable read !


  • Speaking of sharing, I started a blog at the start of '13 giving myself a task of practicing or playing each day of the year. I mostly succeeded, though some days that meant only a couple of minutes.

    Here the "about" section:

    I’m using this blog as a journal for my guitar practice. Maybe after a while I’ll be able to see what I did and didn’t do and start to tailor my practice time better. As my first post states, I’m gonna play every day for a year. Needless to say I’ve never done this. I can’t say how much time I’m going to devote every day to playing and practicing but doing it each day and making a habit out of it would be a huge first step. Not that I’m a stranger to guitar, I’ve played for all of my adult life. I think I started at the age of 13. But I’ve never developed a practice habit though I’ve had periods of my life where I played a ton every day. I also never practiced scales much and I’m changing that as well. I love music, hearing a harmony between instruments gives me a great pleasure. I’ve played in some hard rocking bands before and I was getting a great rush too hearing and feeling distorted guitars, heavy bass and drums. Experiencing music is the greatest natural high you can get, not only as a player but as a listener too. Now I play acoustic, gypsy jazz to be precise. This style of music is incredibly satisfying for me to play. I adore Django in all of his phases and also the new generation of these insanely skilled players and musicians. I aspire to reach at least some of what they do, but more importantly reach into myself to find out what I can do.


    ScoredogBill Da Costa WilliamspickitjohnJosechiky
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    As an interesting side note Buco, I can't remember the last time I played an entire scale except diminished, I'll generally find musical fragments of a scale and work on that. I'm sure many people are different.
  • You know in some weird way I think practicing scales (major only and it's modes, nothing fancy) helped me in a sort of "wax on-wax off" way.

    It took a while, I felt an improvement only towards the end of '14 but at some point I was able to make actual music through these scales and finally felt I could get through the song improvising.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • I wanted to do the same drill with harmonic/melodic minor thinking that would add more interesting flavor. Then there's bebop...

    But probably the most important next step for me is to either transcribe licks and practice by adding them in context of what I already play. Or use the transcribed stuff to sort of learn the path and then compose my own. Either way. Both worked for many people. But that should come next.
    That's the plan.
    And by the time I'm 60, I can also touch world class occasionally.
    That's the goal
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Very interesting background, Scoredog! I'm glad you shared it with us. Surprising to learn that you and Bones are music buddies, I had no idea!

    Alas, your "Day in Paris" video wouldn't work for me here in Canada...?

    We will follow your musical journey with interest. Good luck!


    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
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