Someone brought this to my attention. It's a review of the Hal Leonard book The Best of Django Reinhardt
Since the Gypsy Picking book came out there's be an ongoing to debate on the advantages and disadvantages of rest stoke picking. My position has always been that you should do what ever you want to. The book simply describes the tradition as I learned it from the Gypsies. Personally, I was glad I gave up alternate picking. I'd never go back. I probably can't play some things that I used to, but the tone, relaxation, and volume really make up for that. I've always preferred to hear a real physical element in someones sound....I just never get that from most non-rest stroke players.
Anyway...thought people might like to see this review by George Vasquez.
Reviewer: George H. Vasquez
I highly recommend this book. I don't understand why some reviewers would criticize it. The transcriptions and tabs are flawless and the performances are spirited. I really enjoyed the CD.
Now about the infamous "rest stroke". This stroke came from banjo technique before amplification. In Eddie Lang's 1930's guitar method he claimed that alternate picking was not a good idea because of "volume" in bands. I own Michael Horowitz's book "Gypsy Picking". It's a great book for the style, but in it he states that it is not conducive to bebop. I think this goes for any modern jazz, including modal and free jazz as well. It's too choppy for this later style (Listen to Joe Pass on "Cherokee" on his album "Virtuoso" to see just how limiting this picking is. It sounds choppy and focuses too much on the down beat instead of the subtle syncopation of later jazz, not to mention how sloppy it gets at these speeds. The Ferrer brothers (Boulou & Elios Ferre) have the same trouble when they play modern jazz-again the speed). WARNING!: Doing "Giant Steps" with the rest stroke can cause a brain aneurism, so please, don't try it without proper supervision.
If you want to just play Django "prewar" and use a "Selmer Maccaferri" type guitar and be some kind of Django petrified jazz manouche clone, I would recommend the rest stroke (I've even read you should use only two fingers while playing his solos, as though Django wouldn't have done anything to have all his fingers back. Maybe you should buy some butane and orchestrate your own caravan fire to be really authentic). This sort of imitation is not flattering to Django memory and I think, pure silliness.
I would recommend alternate picking unless you want to ignore the last 50 years in jazz and the invention of the amplifier. And yes, you can get a powerful and beautiful sound on an acoustic guitar with alternate picking. Check out the Al Dimeola's instructional tape by REH Video (Warner Brothers Publishing). You can argue with his content or musical ideas but not with his superb technique. I also recommend John McLaughlin's acoustic work such as "Qué Alegría" or "My Goal is Beyond" (rare and expensive) . This speed and virtuosity is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to get with the "rest stroke". By the way, Django himself moved on to other guitars such as gibson and other arch tops and incorporated bebop ideas in his solos. Toward the end of his life he was upset that people couldn't or wouldn't accept his new form of playing, just like Hendrix, Coltrane and other great musicians and painters.
What I would recommend is what Wes Montgomery did. He transcribed every Charlie Christian solo he could get his hand on, and then went somewhere completely different with it. Charlie Parker learned Lester Young solos and went somewhere else with that as well. The same could be said for Bob Dylan and folk music, or Hendrix and the blues.
Live in the true spirit of Django. Buy this wonderful book. Learn the solos. Study the content of the solos and the PLEASE...go somewhere NEW, beautiful and completely, unexpected with it the way Django would have. Now that's real "bal musette".