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The definitive guide to Gypsy Jazz Rhythm

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  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    Posts: 264
    I'm also a strong proponent for NOT muting the 2 and 4 as anyone who has the rhythm course with Nous'che and worked with my analysis probably knows by now.

    Funny story: one of the recording sessions with Nous'che we were discussing the finer point of his rhythm style and I asked him if he knew about the muted 2 and 4 sound. He said: not specifically but I did hear some strange rhythms being produced especially by American players when he was in the states. I proceeded to demonstrate this muted 2 and 4 style and all he said was: "What!? Noooooo, you've got to be kidding me" and he started laughing and his laugh is contagious I can tell ya.

    Anyway, I have must have spent over one hundred hours watching close-ups of Nous'che's right and left hand, transcribing every voicing, every embellishment, every ending and analyzing all the different rhythms to the tiniest detail and practicing that for countless hours myself. I can now safely say I've got Nous'che's rhythm techniques down to a science: his swing rhythm, bolero, rhumba, ballad and even the secret to his elusive bossa sound.

    I've always thought that my rhythm playing was decent to pretty good but I know now that it was complete crap. I'm gonna say something controversial now and just my opinion: after working with Nous'che both as a violin player ( so I know how his rhythm feels when he comps you) and now as a student/analyst and watching many other rhythm guitar players both live and on video I have to conclude that no one comes close to what Nous'che produces when playing rhythm.

    I know now how to do it but I've got a long way to go before I can compare myself to Nous'che, that's for sure!!

    BTW Johnny Rosenberg is also an amazing rhythm player and my second favorite! He has like Nous'chee unlimited stamina to play 300 BPM the whole evening without missing a beat!
  • MitchMitch Paris, Jazz manouche's capital city!✭✭✭✭ Di Mauro, Lebreton, Castelluccia, Patenotte, Gallato
    Posts: 159
    Interesting Hemert,

    And I agree, Nous'che is a true master
  • AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 236
    Hemert wrote:
    BTW Johnny Rosenberg is also an amazing rhythm player and my second favorite! He has like Nous'chee unlimited stamina to play 300 BPM the whole evening without missing a beat!

    It's great to see that Johnny gets some recognition. He's my second favorite after Nous'che too. The old records with "Sinti" prove it. Jimmy would count the songs in at light speed and Johnny would play perfect rhythm with super drive all the way through.

    His work with Mozes is kind of amazing too. This clip is a perfect example of that unmatched drive and power: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_0vRIFhKf8
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    Well, I won't go so far as saying that the 2+4 is bad, it's certainly not my cup of tea, and it's definitely not the way it 's done among the gypsies (and the non-gypsies who have had access to them), but you know, if people like it, so be it. Like I said, the guy I hire for my tours does it that way too and I would rather work with him then others who have the sound.

    My turn to sound controversial but my favorite rhythm players are generally non-gypsies who also know how to play solo. As I mentioned, a lot of gypsies are completely unable to play with a click track, and also they have they often have their own system in their head for learning songs, it's not always easy for them to learn a new song, or to play a song in a new key. Of course, I shouldn't generalize either because there are some gypsy players who learn very fast and who are able to transpose and who know a bit of chord theory ; my friend Bobby Guttenberger from Germany comes to mind.

    There's a reason why guys like Matthieu Chatelain, David Gastine, William Brunard, Romain Vuillemin, Samy Daussat often get hired over and over again for gigs or recording sessions. They've learned from the source but they also know their basic chord theory and are able to figure stuff out extremely quickly.. My personal favorite is my friend Romain Vuillemin; you play the song once and he has the song memorized.

    I was once with a famous group that was asked to play with a singer. The singer wanted to sing night and day in a completely different key than the standard C, D or Eb... The rhythm guitar player and bass player got frustrated , and the rhythm guitarist just handed me the guitar and told me to be the rhythm player hahaha. The lead guitarist had no problem transposing.

    One of the things, is that as a teacher, I've often had a lot of resistance from people when I tell them that the 2+4 should be muted. I've had one instance, where someone told me that he wasn't interested in the django rhythm, that he was more interested in sounding like the modern players, and he cited Nous'che as an example!!!!

    The reason that there is this division is, because if you look on youtube, the VAST majority of players teaching GJ rhythm are teaching players to mute the 2+4, these players are generally good musicians in their own right, so people tend to think their word is credible... the only people teaching to voice the 2+4 are hono, nous'che/christiaan, myself, and maybe one or two other guys that i can't think of right now; but we're overpowered by tons of other videos teaching otherwise...
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    Posts: 264
    dennis wrote:
    My turn to sound controversial but my favorite rhythm players are generally non-gypsies who also know how to play solo. As I mentioned, a lot of gypsies are completely unable to play with a click track, and also they have they often have their own system in their head for learning songs, it's not always easy for them to learn a new song, or to play a song in a new key. Of course, I shouldn't generalize either because there are some gypsy players who learn very fast and who are able to transpose and who know a bit of chord theory ; my friend Bobby Guttenberger from Germany comes to mind.

    This is certainly true, many gypsies have trouble changing arrangements, chords or keys on the fly. But as you know, not Stochelo and Nous'che. Stochelo is very fast. I only recall one instance where he had real trouble learning a Lennie Tristano theme in the studio. But then again I had trouble with that one and it was written down for me! I also played a tango with Stochelo in duo (bandoneon + guitar) and Stochelo learnt that piece in one hour listening to a CD and he never played a tango before!

    Nous'che also has no problems with transposing or learning new songs, especially when Stochelo is around who can speak to him in his own language and demonstrate the odd chord here and there on guitar or if for example I'm around and we can speak Dutch. Also, Nous'che played every song in his course with a click, all one takes!
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    Yes of course, Stochelo has an incredible memory and lightning fast reflexes; this is a great video is proof of it (despite it being super cheesy hehe)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1qN3ZM2gMM
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    I learned to play Gypsy Rhythm from my bandmate, Jack Fields. We do NOT mute 2 and 4 when doing it Gypsy jazz style (and we use the grace note upstroke). In fact, the first time Stephane Wrembel sat in with us, he looked at Jack and told him that he played just like the European Gypsys do.

    When I play Western swing, I do mute 2 and 4 and use all downstrokes. When I play American swing. I do NOT mute 2 and 4, but use all downstrokes.

    Each style has its own flavor and I consider them all colors on a palatte. In addittion to using the right stroke, each style uses different chord grips. The strokes and chord grips can all be studied and taught.

    Time, however is something you are either born with or not. I would rather have a player in my combo with great time and lousy technique (so long as he isn't playing wrong chords), then a player with awsome technique and lousy time.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    www.hotclubpacific.com
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    I know this is long, guys, forgive me. I've turned a corner in life and this music is everything to me, aside from my wife and son, and friends. Came at past-50, but c'est la vie.

    So: Dennis and Christiaan, talking about the Rosenbergs, it's this facility I witnessed, starting at about 9:30 into the "Extras" features on the Live at Samois DVD, that floored me (the czardas/Jaap section). Clip with them on their couch, Stochelo turns the CD up, and they just transcribe on the fly (I presume)? **

    I've danced around this so much. I can't say what kind of affection for lead will open up, should I get better at it - enjoyable to be able to do a waltz like Dolores relatively cleanly, at about half-speed, etc. But it always comes back to rhythm and at least for now, it's the clear passion over anything else.

    And one of the ways I feel weakest as an accompanist is in just the way you guys are talking about - this facility to be "live" and adapt on the fly to others' needs (say, a singer in another key, Denis, great story, thank you - exactly this kind of a situation).

    I've deliberately eschewed theory, though I learned some when I first came back to a halting beginning. What I find I do more than anything else is try to master exactly what someone is doing - Denis, for instance, your minor swing in that great clip of you playing on several vintage guitars; Hono's stuff from your site, or Christiaan, Nous'che's stuff from the course. But it still feels like I'm just learning "another way to do it," and the connections aren't yet popping.

    Maybe it's because I've concentrated so strongly on sound, and timekeeping (literally, hours daily on the simplest progressions).

    I anticipate the answer - to get this kind of facility, this ability to work in this "live," adaptive way...open your ears? Just really struggle to hear what the rhythm is doing, "steal" and own it from others, without even having to put it into words, just know "why" it works, because it's musically "right," makes sense to the (sorry, don't know any other way to say it), body-mind?

    Thank you guys. I know time is precious so appreciate any thoughts you could spare.

    Paul

    ** By the way, would it be too much trouble to translate/paraphrase/give the gist what Stochelo says, in the interview portion just after this "couch" scene?
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Sorry, should add (and can't edit the above post, not sure why this happens from time to time) - Mark Levine's theory book has long been on my Amazon cart. Please don't tell me it's just a matter of reading this. :D
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    Paul, I hope I'm not speaking out of turn here, but from this post in particular and from some I've seen you make I get the impression that you are simply feeling (from time to time) overwhelmed with the enormity of the task at hand. I have often felt the same way, and still do from time to time, but I keep telling myself that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Things will eventually start "popping" and unfortunately there is no single magic code to make it so (or if there is, no one is sharing it!).

    Just keep enjoying yourself and trust that the time you put in WILL pay off. I find that some of my biggest leaps forward come when I am putting the least pressure on myself, and conversely when I am most obsessively hard on myself is when my playing is at it's most stagnant. Listen, enjoy, play, enjoy, listen critically, adjust, play, listen, enjoy.
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