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Rocky Gresset: am I the last to know about him?

Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
While visiting Paris last month, I was given a copy of a 5-CD sampler containing tunes of dozens of great European GJ players.

They're all great, but one track in particular just knocks me out, "The Way You Look Tonight" by a player I'd never before heard of named Rocky Gresset. It's sort of a hybrid of GJ and mainstream-ish North American swing... played on acoustic guitar, as I personally prefer.

I googled "Rocky Gresset" and found lots of hits, including a guy who'd posted a video of himself playing Rocky's arrangement of that very song. Anyway, you can check Rocky Gresset out for yourself at YouTube and also find his CD on iTunes which includes "The Way You Look Tonight".

To judge his playing from just this one tune, Rocky's not one of these shredder-type guys that end up just wearing you out. His playing is very intelligent and musical and swings like ten thousand mofos. When the tune ends, you want to hear it all over again.

So thus I say, "If this is the sort of thing you like, then I think you'll really like it..."
Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
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Comments

  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Don't feel bad, I only recently discovered Art Pepper. Some of my saxophone buddies looked at me like I was a space alien... I have maybe 1,500 to 2,000 vinyl ...mostly jazz... no idea who he was till I heard some guy tearin it up in some early Kenton orchestra recordings but didn't recognize the player's style and and got curious... turns out he was one of the greatest and most prolific jazz saxophonists of his era. Probably heard him thousands of times and just assumed it was someone else. Go figure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ_jvV3mR5U

    Anyway, with Rocky - yeah, he's the real deal. Ars Longa Vita Brevis - you're bound to miss a few great ones along the way even if you're keeping your eyes open. The neat part is that you now have a bunch of groovy "new" music to listen to, and Rocky gets some new album sales. Everyone wins. ;-)
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,673
    Thanks, Bob, I'll check out Art Pepper. My own sax faves are pre WWII players like Sidney Bechet, Adrian Rollini, Frank Trumbauer, Lester Young and Harry Carney, so I don't tend to listen to the 50's players too much.

    BTW, my compliments on the beautiful sound of your guitars. At DiJ last year I bought Antoine Boyer's CD and that guitar just sounds so sweet.

    Someday Id like to own a Holo... But no rush, we can just wait until yours truly can actually play some music of a quality that would match the guitar's!
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Yep, I was raised on Bix & Tram and all those folks and have hundreds of albums from King Oliver up through the "Frisco Revival" in the 70's and more general revival of the 80's and again now it's starting to pop in conjunction with some of the more swing oriented GJ bands... I was hauled to Trad Jazz festivals as a child and didn't realize till years later how cool it was to be exposed to that music as a kid.

    For Rocky's work - look for the original Selmer 607 stuff - also, he & Adrien did some really nice work on the Dreyfus label and also on the "Life After Django" documentary which can be tough to find in North America, but you can stream it on Netflix.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • Prez claimed his big sax influence was Tram. Tragic though he was, Bix was probably the first white guy to really get "jazz" as it was back when he first started.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
    Posts: 589
    Thanks for bring up Rocky. One of my favorites is his take on "More" (as in this YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIWQ6Mr2R6k). And--best I can tell--two Holo guitars too!

    One of the first times I saw Rocky was back about ten years ago when he stepped into La Chope with an Epi Joe Pass archtop. He just walked in, plugged in, and sat in with the Garcias. I remember he was playing away in a very impressive boppish-style when suddenly his cell phone began chiming in his pocket. He looked up, scanned the room with his eyes, and some fella "relieved" him by grabbing his Epi, and picking up the song without missing a beat! Rocky casually stepped out and took the call. That's when I thought, I got a lot to learn in this music. Even to this day when playing a gig, I get a funny grin on my face when a cell phone goes off in the pocket of one of the players. AE
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,673
    Nice version of "More", thanks Eddie. great tune and I play that one as well so I really appreciate Rocky's version.

    While in Paris in January, I also stopped in at the Mug of Fleas where some guitar players whom I will not name here played that same tune, as well, but they had the chords kind of screwed up...

    At first I thought it was my imagination but I noticed the same thing my second visit... The tune has two parts that are near-identical except for two different endings and it seemed the guys didn't quite understand that!

    One of the few benefits of being a fella of A Certain Age is that this song was a hit when I was a teenager, so I know all the words and everything... I believe this was written by Bert Kampfert, a German guy who also wrote another standard I play called L-O-V-E...

    Long digression here, but Kampfert was around when the Beatles were in Hamburg and had a chance to sign them to his recording label, but instead just had them record a few tunes backing Tony Sheridan as the "Beat Brothers" including "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" and my personal favourite, the Lennon-Harrison instrumental composition "Cry for a Shadow" which aped the then popular instrumental group The Shadows... who I still think are pretty cool!

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=m1VMr29e ... 1VMr29eUeo
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Speaking of Tony Sheridan, you gents may have already heard - and sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately a few days ago, John & George hired Tony for a permanent reunion tour up North...

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/arts/ ... .html?_r=0
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,673
    Thanks for the obit, Bob, I had no idea Tony Sheridan was even still alive... and still living in Germany until his death, yet!

    I've read someplace that the Beatles called him "the teacher" and that it was from him that George Harrison basically learned the lead guitar style that came to be identified with him and also made the group sound polished and professional.

    The excellent "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Simon Leng tells more about this chapter of Harrison's musical journey... now I don't personally know about this, but some people say you can read most of this stuff online without even needing to buy the book... :oops:

    http://www.amazon.ca/While-My-Guitar-Ge ... 1423406095

    *************

    Incidentally, there was a Django connection with the Beatles by way of Canadian-born guitarist Diz Disley who played around Liverpool when they were teenagers. Diz was one of the earliest Django revivalists and he apparently became a close friend of Joseph Reinhardt in the fifties. He played quite proficiently in the GJ style, even to the point of accompanying Grapelli in 1970's tours.

    I heard Disley interviewed on CBC one time and he said that the teenage Beatles (or perhaps Quarrymen?) attended one of his gigs and afterwards he heard John and Paul telling George, "Why don't you play like that bloke?"
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • shegashega Colorado✭✭✭
    Posts: 39
    Hi guys,
    sorry for bumping an old thread, but I felt it important to express my admiration for Rocky. I am impressed by all of the players coming out of Europe these days, and the Selmer 607 crew introduced me to Adrian and Rocky in particular. But it really has been Rocky that has impressed me most. His taste, his phrasing, his patience, my god is he ever genuine.

    For those of you who want to see him at his tastiest, go to Youtube and find Anniversary Song played with Adrian. When his solo comes, sit tight, and be prepared to watch it over and over again until your significant other pulls you away from the screen.

    Go Rocky! Go!
  • AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 236
    I discovered him about a year ago when I came across that full length Angelo Debarre concert called "Manoir de mes Reves". If anybody here hasn't seen it yet, you've missed an amazing concert led by Angelo with some amazing guests: Ludovic Beyer, a great clarinet player whose name I can never remember, Thomas Dutronc, David Reinhardt, and of course Rocky! As usual Angelo is backed by Tchavolo Hassans rock solid pompe. The bassist is great too, but I can't remember his name.

    Anyway that was the first time I heard Rocky. His playing in that particular concert impressed me, but the level in France is high and to me his playing didn't stand out that much in that particular concert.
    However, recently I came across this clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Oq-WS-uyWQ

    ..and I was completely floored! I'm a long time bebop fan. Been playing bop for about five years and GJ for the last two and a half or something. Anyway, the reason why I was so awestruck was that the clip is a perfect example of the vocabulary of bebop combined with the ferocious drive you get from gypsy picking. It pushed me over the edge and now I am reworking my entire bebop vocab with gypsy picking. And that's because Rocky showed me that it's possible.

    I'm usually not a big fan of gypsy jazz vocab played on an archtop. I believe the Selmac guitar with a Stimer pickup and a Stimer or Peche a la Mouche amp sounds more at home in GJ.

    However, the bebop vocab played with gypsy picking like Rocky does, now that was a trip for me!

    You know, generally I can't fathom the incredibly high level in France. I discovered many of the French players years ago, and even now I still can't come to terms with how many French players and a select group of Dutch players are in a league WAY above the rest of the world.
    It seems when I think I've heard them all, I discover some new player who just blows me away and Rocky has that impact. He has a Stochelo-like right hand with Bireli influenced vocab.
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