Ladies and Gents,
I thought I'd post a review about an excellent resource that I just received - Denis Chang's Jazz Manouche DVD - The Art of Accompaniment. If you are really serious about learning this style, you are probably aware that rhythm playing is at the root. I've heard and read that the Gypsies* usually start off playing rhythm and that any lead player worth his salt is a very solid rhythm player first. (*Disclaimer - I use the term Gypsy with all due respect. I realize that it has been used in a derogatory fashion from time to time, but I think we all agree that in this respect we are speaking of musical royalty.)
Now I'm a little strange as far as North American Jazz Manouche guitarists go - I have very little interest in playing lead, so I've searched far and wide to soak up Gypsy rhythm. I have been studying the art of ‘la pompe’ for a few years and feel very lucky to have found Denis. He is clearly a remarkable player, student, and foremost, teacher. I've had the good fortune of studying rhythm with Denis and others - Hervé Gaguenetti, Michael Horowitz, and Dave Kelbie - all great teachers. This forum is also chock full of information and there are other web sites, but none of them could possibly get the essence of this music across the way it has been passed down traditionally, person-to-person, watching, listening, and repeating. That's why I'm glad I got Denis' DVD.
I don't know about you, but I can't get up to Montreal for a lesson every week and the festival workshops and master classes are even fewer and farther between. That is why the way Denis and HyperHip set up this DVD is excellent. If I want to access some exercises, look at some details about tremolo, upstroke and downstroke, what to be attentive to in my left and right hands, explore some of the more complex rhythms and effects used in Jazz Manouche, look at traditional chord shapes, progressions, intros and outros, Denis' DVD has it and more. The beauty of it is that you can view just Denis' instruction or view the whole track to see how his students interpret his teaching and how he makes adjustments to their playing. It is set up much in the fashion of watch, listen, and repeat - just like the Gypsies have passed music down since the time of Django and beyond.
The take home: Denis' DVD is the best rhythm resource I have found so far, short of going to Europe and spending a few months (years?) studying with the masters.
Take a look for yourself: JAZZ MANOUCHE: THE ART OF ACCOMPANIMENT