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  • jonpowl 6:02PM

Gypsy Jazz -- or -- Gypsies Playing Jazz

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  • In my interviews with numerous Sinti musicians in Holland I found that most Gypsies consider the music itself to be jazz. There's nothing Gypsy about it.
    I totally agree but the misconceptions continue to profligate. History seems to be forever being re-written or re-interpreted.
    Similarly, the Hungarian based violin repertoire that many gadjos call "Gypsy Music" is just called Hungarian music by the Gypsies. They know it's not their music. However, they do firmly believe there is a Gypsy style. The values of their culture reflect their approaches to improvisation, repertoire, phrasing, etc...whether it's jazz, Hungarian music, flamenco, etc.
    Again agree 100%
    Many of the non-Gypsy musicians I interviewed saw this music not so much Gypsy, but "European Jazz" or "French Jazz."
    Absolutely. Gadjo's for the most part fail to understand gypsy history or thinking.
    It's pretty clear to me that Django was a jazz musician. He had no Gypsy agenda...
    This has always been my contention since first hearing him in 1955.

    I usually find my views are very much at variance with the current perceptions of Django's inspirations/influence and the origins of gypsy jazz but I am 100% with Michael here.
  • stublastubla Prodigy Godefroy Maruejouls
    A couple of thoughts:

    1) Insider v.s Outsider (i.e. Gypsy vs Gadjo perspectives): Carter touched on this....thought I'd elaborate. Despite the growing interest in this style among non-Gypsies, there's no arguing that the vast majority of practitioners, innovators, and big name performers are of Sinti ot Gitan heritage. For that reason, their perspective on what is or isn't Gypsy jazz carries the most weight. In my interviews with numerous Sinti musicians in Holland I found that most Gypsies consider the music itself to be jazz. There's nothing Gypsy about it. -Michael




    Nothing Gypsy about it?!--thats funny:-)
    So i check out the latest (wonderful ) Piottos cd(available here) and what do i find?
    track 6-Sjuka Tjsai(trad)
    track 8-Joseph Joseph(trad)
    track 11-Hongaars(trad)
    track 12-A-mol Csardas(hungarian trad)
    track 13-Hora Mare(trad roumanian)
    track14 -Djelem Djelem(trad russe)
    track 15-Doina eu Fir Hora(trad Roumanian)
    Not much Jazz content there, is there!?

    As you all know there are scores more examples of recordings by Sintis and Rom(What about the Demeters?) which mix Jazz with traditional 'gypsy' music.
    Really what makes this stuff sound as one and cohesive in an artistic way despite the massive differences in melodic and harmonic content between Jazz and the many types of 'Gypsy' music is(as i insist) the attack and the approach to the instrument which was invented by Django who used his gypsy 'attitude' to the guitar in an exclusively Jazz context UNLIKE many of the musicians who followed in his footsteps.
    Its that simple!
    All the arguments about what we call it-ie"Gypsy Jazz" etc are for me irrelevant!--you could waste as many hours arguing about the labels "World Music" or ,god help us, even "New Age"!!
    its really arguments about semantics not music.
    And Ted-yes! i agree David(and Babik!) doesn't use rest stroke technique but listen to their left hand vibrato!!!--its very 'european';'old world' if you like.


    Spent this morning listening to Tcha singing croatian and serbian songs Not what i'd call a 'jazzy' experience-but beautiful!

    I think its a good idea to listen to what musicians PLAY rather than what they SAY they play(in any genre)*

    Stu

    *me included :-)
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    stubla wrote:

    Nothing Gypsy about it?!--thats funny:-)
    So i check out the latest (wonderful ) Piottos cd(available here) and what do i find?
    track 6-Sjuka Tjsai(trad)
    track 8-Joseph Joseph(trad)
    track 11-Hongaars(trad)
    track 12-A-mol Csardas(hungarian trad)
    track 13-Hora Mare(trad roumanian)
    track14 -Djelem Djelem(trad russe)
    track 15-Doina eu Fir Hora(trad Roumanian)
    Not much Jazz content there, is there!?

    As you all know there are scores more examples of recordings by Sintis and Rom(What about the Demeters?) which mix Jazz with traditional 'gypsy' music.


    Hi Stu...I see what you're saying. However, I think you're perpetuating the notion that these trad. Eastern European tunes are "Gypsy Music." They're not, as you mentioned most of them are Hungarian, Russian, Jewish, etc. Gypsies play them in a Gypsy style, but don't consider it Gypsy music. When Fapy, the Limbergers, etc refer to these tunes they call them Russian, Hungarian, Jewish, whatever. I think these tunes got labeled Gypsy because Gypsies popularized them in Western Europe. But in Eatsern Europe it's just the folk top 10 that musicians of every ethnic back ground were playing.

    So Gyspeis are unique in that they have a highly eclectic repertoire which they mix with jazz. But it still isn't Gypsy music. And many Gypsies don't play the folk stuff.....just jazz.

    'm
  • stubla wrote:
    I think its a good idea to listen to what musicians PLAY rather than what they SAY they play(in any genre)*

    Stu

    *me included :-)
    Wait a minute Stu. :shock: Last week you were telling me it's only musicians who know what they are talking about.
  • stublastubla Prodigy Godefroy Maruejouls
    stubla wrote:

    Nothing Gypsy about it?!--thats funny:-)
    So i check out the latest (wonderful ) Piottos cd(available here) and what do i find?
    track 6-Sjuka Tjsai(trad)
    track 8-Joseph Joseph(trad)
    track 11-Hongaars(trad)
    track 12-A-mol Csardas(hungarian trad)
    track 13-Hora Mare(trad roumanian)
    track14 -Djelem Djelem(trad russe)
    track 15-Doina eu Fir Hora(trad Roumanian)
    Not much Jazz content there, is there!?

    As you all know there are scores more examples of recordings by Sintis and Rom(What about the Demeters?) which mix Jazz with traditional 'gypsy' music.


    Hi Stu...I see what you're saying. However, I think you're perpetuating the notion that these trad. Eastern European tunes are "Gypsy Music." They're not, as you mentioned most of them are Hungarian, Russian, Jewish, etc. Gypsies play them in a Gypsy style, but don't consider it Gypsy music. When Fapy, the Limbergers, etc refer to these tunes they call them Russian, Hungarian, Jewish, whatever. I think these tunes got labeled Gypsy because Gypsies popularized them in Western Europe. But in Eatsern Europe it's just the folk top 10 that musicians of every ethnic back ground were playing.

    So Gyspeis are unique in that they have a highly eclectic repertoire which they mix with jazz. But it still isn't Gypsy music. And many Gypsies don't play the folk stuff.....just jazz.

    'm

    Thats why i put 'Gypsy' in inverted commas
    Whether its actually Gypsy of origin is debatable;alot of the Russian stuff IS gypsy music by origin in my experience.
    Anyway-all this stuff is most associated with gypsy musicians,certainly in Europe.
    I've yet to meet a Gypsy musician who doesn't play some of this 'non jazz' stuff--it pays the rent after all ;-)
    Best
    Stu
  • I'm confused Stu - you argued that those tunes were "gypsy music" and Michael reiterated that they weren't and now you seem to agree with him but you're still talking as if you don't - what's going on?
  • stublastubla Prodigy Godefroy Maruejouls
    nwilkins wrote:
    I'm confused Stu - you argued that those tunes were "gypsy music" and Michael reiterated that they weren't and now you seem to agree with him but you're still talking as if you don't - what's going on?

    All that Music is associated with Gypsies(and has been for centuries)
    I also made the point that a large degree of russian 'folk' music is actually music of gypsy origin--this 'borrowing business' works both ways
    Alot of Hungarian and Rumanian music is also derived from gypsy tradition
    Stu
  • stublastubla Prodigy Godefroy Maruejouls
    stubla wrote:
    I think its a good idea to listen to what musicians PLAY rather than what they SAY they play(in any genre)*

    Stu

    *me included :-)
    Wait a minute Stu. :shock: Last week you were telling me it's only musicians who know what they are talking about.

    No Teddy
    Not just ANY musician:-)
    GOOD musicians(and i admit,even then not all the time)
    I think you misunderstood the basis of that thread due to my legendary inarticulacy
    I was really referring to(dare i mention) the technical aspects of playing.
    Anyway...fuck it!:-)
    I'm off to practice!(with soul and feeling included)
    Stu
  • stubla wrote:
    I'm off to practice!(with soul and feeling included)
    Good lad and for goodness sake don't forget the rest stroke. :wink:...... You are quite wrong about what constitutes gypsy music. Just because it says traditional does not mean it is of gypsy origin. Gypsies have always tended to play the folk/popular music of the nation in which they reside. Obviously when they travel they take elements of it with them but it is not their music per se. Arguably gypsy jazz is the only identifiable music genre created by a gypsy.
  • AndoAndo South Bend, INModerator
    Jack, yes, I'm playing devil's advocate mainly to keep the pot stirred up.

    Ted, you're right that my suggested labels still refer to ethnicity. Clearly, I'm still undecided about the extent to which I think ethnicity determines things. I think ethnicity is probably a wrong tack. My son is not gypsy, but if I sent him over to Fapy to learn how to play guitar for ten years (he's 4 now), he'd probably sound a helluva lot like the other gypsy kid players. So... what we're talking about here is musical tradition and values.

    An entertaining and useful exercise might be to have blind listening tests. Someone could post pairs of improvised choruses on the same tune: one by an ethnic gypsy, and the other by a non-gypsy. No labels, no identifying data whatsoever. The goal would be to guess which is the gypsy, and which the gadjo, and to explain the reason for the choice.

    Some people with massive collections and long listening experience should probably refrain from commenting until we have a winner. This might make for some interesting threads, if nothing else.

    Cheers,
    Ando
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