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Should Django get a writing credit for Toots Thieleman's "Bluesette?"

billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Elan 14 - Altamira M10
in Repertoire Posts: 107
So nowadays, just about anyone can "sample" a song and call it their own. Vanilla Ice tried to add one note to a Queen song and claim it was his original work. Then again, even Robin Thicke gets sued for producing a track that is similar to Martin Gaye in vibe only... To my ears, there is no way this is a rip off.


That said, I mean, if that is plagiarism or stealing, then how is Bluesette not derivative of Django's 'Place De Brouckere?" I first came to know Place de Brouckere at Samois and had never really listened closely to any of the versions Django actually recorded. Certainly, the distinctive melody is the frenetic blasting of the horns. However, at the 1:36 mark on this clip, for about 10 seconds, you'll hear a lick that made me almost stop my car the other day when I realized that I was listening to a 1942 recording of a 1960s jazz classic! It can't be!


Now listen to the start of Bluesette at around the 0:07 mark


Rest my case? Should David Reinhardt be pressing his case before the European Court of Justice? When modern players threw this into their arrangement, I always thought it was a clever quote to Toots in the classic jazz tradition. Now I know the truth. They are taking it from the original and Toots stole it whole cloth from Django! I know Toots has apparently gone on record as saying he was a big fan of Django. He should be if he created his biggest hit off the back of a Django riff.

Comments

  • François RAVEZFrançois RAVEZ FranceProdigy
    Posts: 282
    Hi,

    If I remember correctly when Toots had the very first idea of this tune he whistled it to Stéphane Grapelly himself who told him "That's nice you should keep that" and I believe that's Stéphane who suggested the title Bluette which eventually became Bluesette. So Stéphane himself did not say "hey you stole that from Django". That's a witness who would be easy to quote in court.

    Best

    François RAVEZ
  • PapsPierPapsPier ✭✭
    Posts: 388
    In my opinion there is only a loose relation between the two tunes. If you compare with some "compositions" of Django where he just played exactly other famous tunes and put a different title... Toots does not seem to me to be in trouble
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,813
    The melodic connection doesn’t seem very strong to me.....I don’t think Django’s heirs will be pursuing a lawsuit anytime soon. But if you’re looking for blatant stealing, the chord progression for Bluesette was lifted from Charlie Parker’s Blues for Alice (otherwise known as “Bird Changes.”)
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited December 2017 Posts: 2,724
    One could make the argument I guess that everything we are doing here belongs to Django on some level..... :-)
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 212
    Changes get shared around like a bottle of cheap whiskey. Bird and the other bebop guys were great purloiners of the changes on which Tin Pan Alley tunes were built--not just the rhythm changes but "Back Home in Indiana," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Cherokee," and so on. I can't play any of the heads any of the bop blues that get called by our local jazz guys, but as soon as the solos start, I chunk along in B-flat or whatever, only careful to note how the turnaround is handled.
    MichaelHorowitz
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Elan 14 - Altamira M10
    Posts: 107
    Hey guys, sorry that any of you actually took my call to action as serious. Just trying to point out (in a playful manner) that the lick I heard in Place de Brouckere from Django bore a strong resemblance to the Toots song and wondering if anyone else thought of Bluesette when they hear that part of the Django song performed today or in old recorded versions. I know for me that is what my brain hears every time and I start thinking "Pour a little sand in the blues, Bluesette, don't you cry, don't you fret..."

    Michael, I won't argue with you over the melodic connection as I don't have a degree in music and haven't even tried to figure out the two parts. That said, even my wife across the room told me she thought they were very similar to her ears. They are similar in pitch and in rhythmic phrasing. Just an opinion I guess.

    Russell and Bones, you both make great points that I alluded to with my mention of quoting. It is a long standing practice, especially in jazz, to sample works from others to breathe fresh life into a separate tune. Changes are borrowed. We mine players performances for neat licks we like which are then reinterpreted, regurgitated, and replayed over and over in our own improvisations. However, if you do look at The Blurred Lines example (in which Thicke had to pay out to the Gaye estate) or to perhaps the Coldplay "Viva La Vida" vs Satriani "If I Could Fly" (in which Satch likely got paid off) or even George Harrison's "subconscious copying" of the Chiffons "He's So Fine" with his "My Sweet Lord", it seems that the courts have come down on the side of the "original" artist more so than dismissing claims.

    Anyway....back to the shed....

    BucoBill Da Costa Williams
  • PapsPierPapsPier ✭✭
    Posts: 388
  • MitchMitch Paris, Jazz manouche's capital city!✭✭✭✭ Di Mauro, Lebreton, Castelluccia, Patenotte, Gallato
    Posts: 159
    same melody indeed! Harmony is totally different though
  • Bill Da Costa WilliamsBill Da Costa Williams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos
    Posts: 191
    Thanks for pointing us to it - I certainly hadn't picked up on the resemblance before and it provides a nice line to play over part of a rhythm changes A section (as well as being a quote, sort-of).
    Buco
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