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Gypsy Jazz -- or -- Gypsies Playing Jazz

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  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,817
    You can read the whole thing here:
    http://www.djangobooks.com/archives/200 ... tml#000960


    This was part of my PhD final exams...haven't really looked at it in over 5 years!

    'm
  • dlloyddlloyd New
    Posts: 18
    That was an interesting read, thanks.
  • jmcgannjmcgann Boston MA USANew
    Posts: 134
    I'm very late to the party here, but two quick points:

    1. "Celtic" music is a marketing label as is "Gypsy Jazz". Each provides a very vague description that will mean 10 different things to 10 different people (espcially 10 different musicians), and each term is grating in it's own way...but has practicality for the quick 'n dirty labeling that seems so ubitquitous in the music biz.

    2. Another obnoxious "That's not guitar, that's mandolin" quote has been attributed to Jimmy Raney. As a mandolinist, I just love the ultimate putdown would be to call a guitarist a mandolinist. I bet Jethro Burns, a deep Djangophile, would have gotten a 'kick' out of it too!
    www.johnmcgann.com

    I've never heard Django play a note without commitment.
  • KoratKorat NetherlandsNew
    Posts: 51
    No, they call themselves Sinti....in The Netherlands non-Gypsies call them Tziguener, which has negative connotations like the English word "Gypsy." But the Sinti don't seem to make that connection, so they dislike the word Tziguener, but fully embrace the word Gypsy.

    The Dutch word is not Tziguener, but 'zigeuner'. It refers to ALL tribes, not just the Sinti. E.g.: the Weiss family performs under the name Mirando. They are Roma. They are the official "Koninklijk Zigeuner Orkest" i.e. the "Royal Gypsie Orchstra".

    By the way, don't take "Royal" lightly. The Netherlands have a monarchie. You may only use 'Royal' in this way by appointment of the ruling king and/or queen. The late queen Juliana was a huge fan and frequently took the orchestra with her on official state visits.
    If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  • Having just read a fair bit of this thread some thoughts that rambled up.

    Just because you can play a bunch of notes on an instrument doesn't mean you should. IMO every instrument has it's strengths and it's limitations. Sometimes one's musical thoughts don't come together as well as one would like. Even such a fabulous improviser as Django had moments that what he was playing didn't work so well as others - at least to my ear.

    There is no evading one's musical heritage no matter how hard you try. I believe that Fapy would get it right every time ... I am sure he can tell a gypsy player form a non gypsy. Doesn't mean the playing would be any less valid though. Jerry Douglas, a great resonater slide guitar player who grew up with bluegrass said he could always tell if a player in a jam had grown up with bluegrass. Salvador Dali commented "Painter, no matter how hard you to to paint badly it will still be evident if you are mediocre"

    Point is you are who you are and what people grew up with influences how they think and feel about life and music. If one's background included lots and lots of music both listening and participating particularly form an early age one will have a different innate feel for that type of music than a newcomer. Most experts now agree that it's about 10,000 hours to master an activity regardelss of whether it's guitar, programming, hockey or whatever. BAck to the practice routines
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • David F.David F. Vancouver, WA✭✭✭
    Posts: 54
    I like the description my wife came up with the first time we tried to play "Swing for Ninine" (she's a violist and violinist;) she called it "demented spy movie music."
  • GregLewisGregLewis Chicago, IL (Oak Park)New
    Posts: 67
    David F. wrote:
    I like the description my wife came up with the first time we tried to play "Swing for Ninine" (she's a violist and violinist;) she called it "demented spy movie music."

    FWIW - In the "Eclectic" section of I-Tunes radio, there is a station called "Secret Agent" that only plays spy movie music

    Greg :lol:
  • Tele295Tele295 San Buenaventura (Latcho Drom), CA✭✭✭ Gitane DG300, D500
    Posts: 629
    GregLewis wrote:
    FWIW - In the "Eclectic" section of I-Tunes radio, there is a station called "Secret Agent" that only plays spy movie music

    Greg :lol:

    Is there an iTunes radio station devoted to gypsy jazz?
    Jill Martini Soiree - Gypsy Swing & Cocktail Jazz
    http://www.jillmartinisoiree.com
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,347
    Late to the party, but here are some random thoughts...

    Gotta agree with previous posters who emphasize the importance of Django's genius still looming over this subgenre of music.

    I also liked the posts about the beautiful sound of the acoustic guitar well-played, and I certainly share the dislike of what one poster called the electric guitar's "from under a blanket" sound... myself, I'd always called it "from the bottom of the well" sound... but to me, alas, this is the sound that defines most North American jazz guitarists, and in North America, at least, I think the term "gypsy jazz" is partly a defensive reaction against being placed in that category.

    I've never attended Samois, and I'm sure I'd find it totally intimidating, probably full of twelve year old kids playing stuff I can only dream of :cry: ---- but the comparison of Samois and similar festivals with the North American bluegrass festival tradition seems to me to be a valid one...?

    Now nobody's mentioned this, but where does one place Stephane Grapelli in the "Gypsy Jazz" debate? His music to me sounds more "French" than "gypsy"... I wonder if he and/or his legacy has any street cred amongst the modern-day gypsy/Sinti GJ players you might meet at Samois?
    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.
  • Insightful thoughts @stuart. I think that there will be a lively debate on the thread if Dennis can find the time to post his thoughts.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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