This is something I’ve been mulling over for a while. Here am I, an American and a Southerner, coming from a fine tradition of country, rockabilly and blues, trying to play the music of the Gypsies. I know that I will not likely ever be able to inhabit the highest realms of technical ability that so many Gypsies reach, even after years of playing. And I will likely always have a Southern accent in my playing, no matter how advanced my abilities become.
I’m sure I will always play Django and other Gypsy material in live settings, because it’s such vibrant and remarkable music. But is there a point to recording this material? I’ll never do it better, and only maybe match at best, Gypsy players. I might succeed in doing it quite differently. Would recording that then be adding something other than noise to the signal? What about just recording more obscure material?
But my big question is this: what place is there for original music among those of us who've become steeped in this tradition? Having angstified the above long enough, I have embarked on recording originals, some of which are clearly imitative of Gypsy jazz, and some of which will likely end up being quite different, though they will often be fuelled by la pompe. I think of projects like Sanseverino, Marie Kiss la Joue and Paris Combo, and I believe that perhaps they are doing a great deal to expand Gypsy jazz, more than I could ever do by merely recording the world’s 6,587th mediocre version of Minor Swing. And I think vocals and pop structure can be an interesting palette with which to paint, as well as the old AABA instrumental.
Are there others of us who are focussing on original material? Do you think that approach has a welcome place in the Gypsy jazz community? Should it?
Thanks! Your thoughts are very much appreciated!