Book Reviews

Review of Gypsy Fire (Just Jazz Guitar Magazine)

Just Jazz Guitar – May 2006 – by Ted Gotsegen

In a relatively short period of time, the homegrown imprint has destroyed every single mainstream publishing house by creating technically accurate methodologies for playing Jazz Manouche. With the addition of Andreas Oberg’s new book Gypsy Fire, they are untouchable. Oberg is a graduate of the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm, he is one of the finest jazz guitarists on the planet. Fully rounded, he’s equally talented be it playing bebop, Tuck Andreas style solo guitar or Jazz Manouche. He is simply an astounding talent. He has demystified the style by demonstrating the thirty most common patterns and arpeggios. These will enable a beginning guitarist to get a more authentic sound, while more advanced students will be able to hone their fingerings and picking. Containing an audio CD, each example is performed at two speeds, slow and fast. The CD also contains relevant tunes designed around the examples in this book. Along with Gypsy Picking there is simply no better way; except for moving to Europe, to learn how to play this style correctly.

Review of Unaccompanied Django (Gryphon Gazet)

Gryphon Gazet – Spring 2004 – by Richard Johnston

Unaccompanied Django, by Michael Horowitz, 176 pages, $55. An exhaustive study of Reinhardt’s often neglected solo compositions. Although best known for the blazing solos and intricate voicings he played with The Hot Club, Django was also capable of highly lyrical, and lovely, solo guitar playing. Here are the best examples, and how to play them, transcribed by an ethnomusicologist who plays this kind of guitar music for a living. Some solos by Stochelo Rosenberg are also transcribed and explained.

Review of Pearl Django Play-Along Songbook Vol.1 (Gryphon Gazet)

Gryphon Gazet – Spring 2004 – by Richard Johnston

Pearl Django Play-Along Songbook, Vol. 1, by Greg Ruby. Spiral bound, includes CD, $38. It’s no secret that the key to playing gypsy jazz solos, as with most instrumental music, lies in having a solid rhythm section that doesn’t mind playing the same chord changes over and over again. Here you get instruction, transcriptions of solos (both standard and tab), and complete chord charts for 17 Django, or Django-style, songs, plus the advantage of being able to practice those great melodies with one of North America’s best gypsy jazz bands playing back-up. Now you’ll be able to take your turn the next time a jam session digs deep into Djangology, Limehouse Blues, Nuages, or Swing 42.

Review of Gypsy Picking, Unaccompanied Django and the Pearl Django Play-Along Songbook Vol.1 (Vintage Guitar Magazine)

Vintage Guitar Magazine – April 2004 – by Michael Dregni

Django Reinhardt set the music world on fire with his single-note solo picking. There were certainly others before him – from Eddie Lang to Vess Ossman – but Django’s jazz was arguably the most influential, creating a legacy that has been studied by everyone from Charlie Christian and Les Paul on.

While there have been no shortage of songbooks published over the years transcribing Django’s compositions and solos, there is a recent spate of method books that delve deeper, offering a greater understanding of his style.

Michael S. Horowitz is at the forefront with his new company A Berklee grad with an M.A. in ethnomusicology, Horowitz received a Fulbright fellowship in 2002 to conduct his Ph.D. research among Dutch Sinti Gypsy jazz guitarists, including Fapy Lafertin, Martin Limberger, Jan Limberger, and Paulus Schafer. From his research, Horowitz dissected Django’s playing in his primary tutorial Gypsy Picking, running from the basics to intermediate level along with a lesson CD.

His masterpiece so far is Unaccompanied Django, a Herculean work of transcriptions and analyses of Django’s solo works that provide amazing insight into the master’s compositional thinking, his approaches to harmony and melody, and details the development of his solos. This book is not for the faint of heart in its scope and difficulty, but it is the single most enlightening book on Django’s playing yet published.

Finally, fans of the now-venerable Gypsy jazz band Pearl Django will want Greg Ruby’s Pearl Django Play-Along Songbook. This is a superlative resource, jam-packed with chords and heads in standard and tab notation for seventeen classic and original tunes along with alternate chord voicings, intros, outros, and a CD.

Review of Unaccompanied Django (The Quarter Note – Dusty Strings Newsletter)

The Quarter Note – Dusty Strings Newsletter – Summer 2004 – by Clyde Holbrook

Django Reinhardt’s musical fame has always rested upon his achievements as a single note soloist in a group context. However, this Gypsy guitar genius was also an excellent composer and performer for the unaccompanied solo guitar. So much so that he even earned the admiration of the father of modern classical guitar, Andres Segovia. Unaccompanied Django provides highly detailed transcriptions of 16 of Django’s solo guitar pieces such as Tears, Improvisation, and Nuages. These transcriptions, which are for both fingerstyle and pick-style guitar, are with out a doubt the best transcriptions ever done of Django’s music. Each piece includes both TAB and standard notation. To help you develop correct Gypsy jazz technique, Michael has included Gypsy style left hand fingerings and right hand picking suggestions. These suggestions are based on the field work he did among master Gypsy guitarists in Europe. In addition to Django’s music, there are two transcriptions of solo guitar music by Stochelo Rosenberg, the contemporary master of Gypsy jazz, and three Gypsy Etudes which are designed to teach harmonic and melodic devices used by contemporary Gypsy guitarists. Students of any level will benefit from this excellent collection which is easily the most thorough study of Gypsy jazz to date.

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