Biréli Lagrène is one of the most accomplished jazz guitarists active today. His career, which started around the age of 10, has included performances with some of the world’s top musicians. He has shared the stage with fusion guitarist Larry Coryell, fretless bass pioneer Jaco Pastorius, and accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano. Biréli is a master of numerous styles including bebop, fusion, and swing. He is also a multi instrumentalist with phenomenal skill on guitar (electric and acoustic), electric bass, and drums.
However, Bireli’s musical roots lie in the music of Django Reinhardt. Like most Sinti children, he was immersed in Django’s music from a very young age. While growing up in the Gypsy camps of the Alsace region of Eastern France, he developed incredible technical and improvisational skill. His talent was quickly recognized, resulting in performances across Europe as a young as age 10.
This video shows Bireli, around the age of 12, playing in the
traditional Django style. Watch his right hand closely, it is THE best
example of the powerful Gypsy Picking
technique. Bireli is joined on this performance by
his brother Gaiti Lagrene on rhythm guitar. He
lays down a hard “German style”
pompe which is characteristic of Gypsies from Alsace.
In this clip, Bireli demonstrates his multi-instrumental ability by
switching to bass half way through the song.
Also check out Bireli Largene’s CDs: Move,
Gypsy Project, Gypsy Project and Freinds, Routes
to Django and Bireli Swing ’81 2 CDs, Live
at Carnegie Hall – A Tribute to Django Reinhardt 2 CDs, New
York Tango, Special
in Marciac, My
Favorite Django, Gipsy
Biréli & Angelo, Broadway
Blues and Teresa 2 CDs, Live
in Italy and Honestly 2 CDs.
The video archive is dedicated to Mary Honcoop. She generously shared her large collection of Gypsy videos with nearly anyone who asked. The video archive aims to continue her generosity now that she is gone.
The Video Archive is devoted surviving video of Django Reinhardt and other masters of the Gypsy jazz genre. If you enjoy these videos consider making a donation.
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