The definitive guide to Gypsy Jazz Rhythm

dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
edited April 2013 in Gypsy Rhythm Posts: 2,161
Yo! I think a lot of players these days are very interested in GJ rhythm , and they're right it's important! Of course, not many players have the chance to get the right coaching for this so there are a lot of nuances that are difficult to hear. I've also mentioned in the past that recordings or videos are not always the best source because of the way the rhythm guitars are mixed/recorded. The biggest issue I find is the 2nd and 4th beats; in the way certain rhythm guitars are recorded, it often sounds muted; but i promise that no gypsy plays that way. Some make the 2 and 4 ring out more, and others might make it sound almost muted, but it is ALWAYS voiced

I get emails about this pretty regularly, and from answering all those emails, I've compiled a list of youtube videos where the sound of the rhythm guitar is actually very clear. So if people don't believe me, just check these vids out:


  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    These are fantastic, thanks, Denis. Never seen most of these, and nice to have them all in one room.

    Also, a nod to a youtube you kindly pointed out some time ago - and for others who might like it, Martin Limberger/Remi Harris, All of Me. Part of my daily rhythm practice, actually, and Remi's playing is fantastic. Denis, isn't this clip from Chope des Puces? Not to hijack your thread...I'm deep in Nous'che territory, but Martin Limberger is another that hits home...anything showcasing his rhythm, all in.


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    (Sorry, don't know why, but from time to time the "edit" radio button is MIA, at least for me).

    Not to be ignorant...but I am. :D Can you tell me who's doing rhythm on the Mayo Hubert Trio/Joseph Joseph? Also love the Graf Trio's Anniversary, and the Rosenbergs' Green Dolphin. Awesome!

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Ugh, guess I will add a third - a quick look at Amazon, comes up zip for the above players. Any ideas where to get them?

    (and again, ignorance - Dolphin Street - that's Johnny on rhythm, Mozes on lead, yes?)

    Thanks - sorry for the multiple posts!

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Interesting post Dennis. Quite a variety of styles on 2 and 4 however as you ears hear them voiced to some extent or another.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    ya that's johnny rosenberg and the guy playing rhythm for mayo is benji winterstein, hono winterstein's nephew. Btw mayo hubert often played rhythm for tchavolo, and i think he's the rhythm player on at least one of his albums

    jazzaferri, that's the point; i have yet to encounter one instance where a top gypsy player does not mute the 2 and 4; at faster tempos the 2 and 4 might be shorter, as is the case for francko mehrstein, but still it is always fully voiced. And that's the thing, a lot of people learning to play GJ rhythm who don't have access to hanging out with these players often misinterpret the 2 and 4 as being fully muted even on medium tempo; that's what i'd like to correct!
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Great, thanks, Denis!

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • bluetrainbluetrain Finland✭✭✭ Cach, Epiphone Triumph, Gibson ES-300
    Posts: 156
    Thanks Dennis for the videos!

    I want to ask your opinion about the rhythm styles of non gypsy rhythm players like Gonzalo Bergara, Mathieu Chatelain and David Gastine. I've spent hours and hours listening to their playing and watching videos and to me they sound different that gypsies and it seems again to me that these players favour to mute the beats 2 and 4 especially in medium tempos. I've seen multiple videos where I can see clearly that they lift their left hand on beats 2 and 4 and the sound is also a very muted sound. Actually the Ninine Garcia video you put there looks very much like he is lifting his left hand on beat 2 and 4. You probably have had the opportunity to have conversation with these players so what is your opinion?

    I put here few videos that looks like they're muting the 2 and 4 in many cases (not all the time ofcourse):

    It is true that it's hard to make any conclusions based on videos or listening to a cd but if it sounds fantastic on a cd and you can make the same sound live with muting the 2 and 4 in certain songs then I don't see any problem with that.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    Matthieu and David both play fantastic rhythm; but even they're not fully muting 2 and 4, but i do admit that Matthieu is close to being fully muted

    This recording of David is better than the one you gave:

    If you concentrate hard enough, you cna hear that it's not muted

    Actually, a number of years ago, someone in the French forums was talking about gypsy jazz rhythm and how the 2 and 4 had to be muted, and he cited me as an example based on a sideman recording I did for Hotclub Records (French guitarist Chriss Campion's debut album). You can listen to samples on itunes, listen to the song Amati. Since I'm the one playing rhythm, I personally guaranteed the fellow on the forum that I was definitely not muting the 2 and 4. In fairness, the mix of the rhythm guitar really sucked, the engineer sucked a lot of juice out of my guitar making it sound harsher than it usually is!!!

    As far as Gonzalo goes, that clip you posted was produced by me haha. This is kind of a tricky thing to say because quite frankly, for the longest time, I've always (and still do) believed that he was one of the top players in the world. In no way, do I mean any kind of disrespect. In fact, I would not have invited him to do an instructional video if i didn't believe he was that good! The title of the video is called "In The Style of GB" so obviously, I let him say what he has to say. I personally disagree with what he says as far as rhythm SOUND goes; he cites Hono as an example (another artist for whom I've produced instructional videos), and their rhythm sounds are worlds apart. I'm not saying that what GB is doing should not be done, but it's definitely not what the other top players are doing... And again, this often comes from the illusion of listening to recordings or videos where the sound isn't as accurate. He's basically invited a new style of rhythm playing; if people like it, then that's all that matters, but historically speaking, it's new. I don't think he invited it , just go on youtube and type "gypsy jazz rhythm lesson"; with the exception of the famous gypsies (and one or two guys), everyone teaches it "muted" , so that helped expand the myth of the 2 and 4.

    As I mentioned in the past, the whole GJ rhythm thing has been an obsession of mine for over 10 yrs; i got to learn it correctly, simply because i had the fortune of being able to hang out and in some instances live with thetop players for extended periods of time.

    Rino Von Hooijdonk is another player who grew up with the Dutch gypsies, he was in Stochelo's first band, and he learned to play from Nonnie and Nous'che 's father. He told me himself (I hope he doesn't mind that I quote him), that he simply can't wait to go to Django In June this summer and teach the proper GJ rhythm!

    There's so much confusion because of all the material out there teaching it "wrong"; and it's a sensitive issue because a lot of times, these players are otherwise absolutely fantastic musicians. It just creates way more confusion.

    However, we're just talking about sound; there are some players who have the sound but don't have the groove... The rhythm player that I hire for my tours in Canada plays rhythm like Gonzalo, and I'd rather play with him than some players that I know who have the "real" sound but who have terrible groove. In fact , he 's one of the very best rhythm players I've ever had the pleasure of working with . While w'ere at it, GB himself is a fantastic rhythm player. You may be surprised but a lot of gypsies (even famous ones) are absolutely unable to play along to a click track!!!
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    actually i just typed in gypsy jazz rhythm on youtube, this is one of the first that comes up (i haven't watched this in years, i don't even own the DVD!)

    to the untrained ear, it sounds like i'm muting it on 2 and 4 , sort of like Matthieu, but i'm definitely not!
  • MitchMitch Paris, Jazz manouche's capital city!✭✭✭✭ Di Mauro, Lebreton, Castelluccia, Patenotte, Gallato
    Posts: 159
    I totally agree with what Dennis wrote.

    All the videos you put as examples are very well chosen. (though you could have added Richard Chiche :wink: )

    Make your 2nd an4th beat ring guys!
    I had this discussion also with Rino. He will show you, but you have to catch the thing yourself because it's hard to put words on it, it's a feeling.

    About Ninine, he plays the archetype of parisian pompe wich I personnaly don't like (all on 1st and 3rd beat), a bit "sticky", not very light in the swing.

    Also many players forget it's an acoustic music and just sit there brushing their strings... man this music needs energy so as long as you hear what the soloist is playing, hit them strings and make it swing..Nothing more annoying that people with weak sound and attack.
    One must certainly not play like a bully and cover the others but you gotta support and put some tight swing in the story.

    Onne pompe I appreciate is Eugène Vées', which Alain Antonietto told it was strictly played only with downstrokes.

    I had the honor to play at Lulu Reinhardt's home with him and Rino... well Lulu's rhythm is tight, with great presence and the right amount of volume. Very sober and sometimes he throws some rhytmic bombs syncopes... Definitely my favorite style of Gypsy jazz!
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