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.

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