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What's the role of Electric Guitar in Gypsy Jazz?

Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
edited July 2005 in Archtop Eddy's Corner Posts: 589
Wow -- I just caught up on my reading in the "history" section of Ted's thread, "Gypsy Jazz or Gypsies Playing Jazz" (I've been pulled away with other projects, blah, blah, blah, and hadn't had a chance to be here for a while..), anyways, amazing! They covered just about everything about Gypsies except whether Jimi Hendrix was REALLY in a Band of Gypsies.

And herein lies my weak transition the subject of: "electric guitars."

What does the electric guitar bring to and take away from this musical genre that we now tepidly and reservedly call Gypsy Jazz?

In some ways it seems that the Selmer Mac - Django thang has created more limits than openings on "the proper" way to play this music -- especially, on the acoustic guitar.

Meanwhile, the players who use electric guitar seem to expand beyond the confines of the Hot Club style and borrow snippets from bop, jazz, soul, etc., and do so while maintaining the essense of what makes us think, Humm, Gypsy jazz...

Nonetheless at other times, playing the electric guitar seems to at times take the musical meanderings so far from the Hot Club style, one has to do a double-take at the CD label to see if it's really the same CD as stated on the cover.

SO... What do you think? What's the role of electric guitar in Gypsy Jazz?

A.E.
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Comments

  • campfirecampfire New
    Posts: 70
    SO... What do you think? What's the role of electric guitar in Gypsy Jazz?

    A.E.[/quote]

    Fodder to sell, so we can buy more Sel-Mac's? I know! The "Electric Gui-toilet!!!" :lol:

    Larry Camp
    www.larrycamp.com (my personal jazz guitar website)
    www.impromptujazz.com (my gypsy-jazz website)
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,163
    In some ways it seems that the Selmer Mac - Django thang has created more limits than openings on "the proper" way to play this music -- especially, on the acoustic guitar.
    These limits were and are being applied by others; they were never Djangos. His music continued to develop throughout his life and from 1947, he was primarily an electric/amplified guitarist.

    I prefer the acoustic guitar but limiting the music exclusively to this instrument is incredibly stultifying.
    What's the role of electric guitar in Gypsy Jazz?
    Whatever anyone chooses to make it.
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Posts: 611
    In some ways it seems that the Selmer Mac - Django thang has created more limits than openings on "the proper" way to play this music -- especially, on the acoustic guitar.

    These limits were and are being applied by others; they were never Djangos. His music continued to develop throughout his life and from 1947, he was primarily an electric/amplified guitarist.

    Agreed on that!
    I prefer the acoustic guitar but limiting the music exclusively to this instrument is incredibly stultifying.

    Variety is the spice!
    What's the role of electric guitar in Gypsy Jazz?

    Whatever anyone chooses to make it.[/quote]

    Pretty much. I think people like the Garcias used electric simply because it made being heard that much easier. I also think they like the tone. That aside, I think most of the guitarists who came up during the '40's, '50's, etc, moved with the times the same way Americans did and considered amplification to be where it's at.

    This is an interesting paradox. The American guitarists in the '30's, players like Dick McDonough, Carl Kress and others, were all really into the idea of amplification because they were tired of slugging it out, trying to be heard over horns. My understanding is that in regards to amplification, Dick McDonough actually said "That's great, now we're be able to be heard." We know that by the late 1940's, Kress had switched over to electric almost exclusively, and other players like Art Ryerson, Mottola, Charlie Christian, Tal, Johnny Smith - just about everyone except for a few hold outs were playing amplified guitars.

    These days, with amplification so abundant, it seems like most players are striving to travel back to the way it was by playing strictly acoustic (even though they aren't playing acoustic if they are using acoustic amplification).

    I think that what it brings to Gypsy Jazz is simply a different voice, which enables a guitarist to say things that he couldn't on electric. As Teddy says...it's whatever the player chooses to make of it.

    Best,

    Ted
  • BreezeBreeze New
    Posts: 12
    Ted, have you heard any recordings of Dick McDonough on electric? I've never come across any, but if he did, I'd love to hear them. He died in 1938 so that would make him an early user. Kress made plenty, of course, but he lived until 1965. Good post--in any kind of jazz, use what you need to express yourself, as Prez would say, "to tell your little stories."

    Breeze
    Somebody wake me when it's time to hit.
  • stublastubla Prodigy Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 386
    Breeze wrote:
    Ted, have you heard any recordings of Dick McDonough on electric? I've never come across any, but if he did, I'd love to hear them. He died in 1938 so that would make him an early user. Kress made plenty, of course, but he lived until 1965. Good post--in any kind of jazz, use what you need to express yourself, as Prez would say, "to tell your little stories."

    Breeze

    Hi
    And lets not forget the greatest--George Barnes!!
    Kress' one time duo partner (sparring and otherwise!!)
    He was one of the very first electric players
    I was listening to his "Keeping out of mischief" cd today and was reminded of just how great he was;brilliant arranger as well!!
    And such a lovely beautiful BRIGHT electric tone--i'm sure Django would have loved him!
    Stu
  • BreezeBreeze New
    Posts: 12
    Oh man Stu, when I started playing jazz in the mid 70's Barnes and Django were the first guys I listened to. As much as I love bop and modern players, those 2 guys grabbed my attention right away. I studied (and eventually played with) with a great player named Jerry Fields, he had been influenced heavily by Barnes and Django. I remember him writing out Django's Billets Doux for me one lesson and Barnes Love Walked In on another. He played his own bag but he knew what these guys and others had done, and could show you. He told me about those Barnes Octets, clear proof of his brilliant arranging. He was real young when he did those, they are amazing to me. Barnes always played the way he wanted, no matter what was in fashion, and like Django, it is timeless. I know Bucky Pizzarelli speaks about him with reverence. As both Jerry and Bucky told me, one note and you know it's George Barnes. Thanks for mentioning him, everybody go listen to some George Barnes, it'll make you smile :D and feel better! Best, Breeze
    Somebody wake me when it's time to hit.
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Posts: 611
    Hi Breeze,
    Breeze wrote:
    Ted, have you heard any recordings of Dick McDonough on electric? I've never come across any, but if he did, I'd love to hear them. He died in 1938 so that would make him an early user. Kress made plenty, of course, but he lived until 1965. Good post--in any kind of jazz, use what you need to express yourself, as Prez would say, "to tell your little stories."

    Nope, no electric of McDonough exists. He would've been great, too!

    Best,

    Ted
  • Posts: 10
    IF you can find Bunny Berrigin's rendition of "Honeysuckle Rose" you will hear one killer (I mean *Killer!*) guitar solo by Dick McDonough.
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Posts: 611
    Hi Ned!
    IF you can find Bunny Berrigin's rendition of "Honeysuckle Rose" you will hear one killer (I mean *Killer!*) guitar solo by Dick McDonough.

    Was this the "Jam Session at Victor" version of HSR?

    Best,

    Ted
  • Posts: 10
    not sure: I had a burned copy of Bunny's greatest hits.
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