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Who 'Worked Out' The Chords?

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Comments

  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 768
    I'm interested!
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,153
    Hi Spatzo...
    spatzo wrote:
    Of course those were ALL intentional harmonizations!

    In most cases I think they were. But there are a few places, especially in the early recordings where the Hot Club seems to be winging it. For example, on the 1935 of version of I Got Rhythm they reduce the I-iv-ii-V (B Gm Cm F7) pattern to just I and V (Bb and F7). I'm not sure that was intentional. I don't see any musical goal be achieved by doing that. And the fact that in later recordings they played it correctly signals to me that the maybe they just didn't know the original chords. But this is all just speculation so who knows, maybe this was intentional?

    One other thing that is unusual about this recording is that they play the tag (both on the head and solos) which I've never heard anyone do on I Got Rhythm before. Maybe it was common practice to do this in the 30s, but I've never heard it done by anyone else before.

    I understand that no american, even today, can easily admit europeans were, in those years, able to "create" jazz instead of just beeing american admirers/followers. This is the reason why Django was invited to tour with Duke Ellington: many musicians did recognize Django as a jazz musician and genious.

    I wasn't implying this...I think Europeans can play jazz just as well as Americans (even better sometimes, especially on guitar!)
    I do believe that Gypsy Jazz players do not listen today to Django's music but to Stochelo/Bireli/Angelo/Dallas/MIchto/Brutto/Groucho/Harpo/ Chico/Gummo/Zeppo...

    Yes, I believe it's best to go back to the source. All the contemporary players are great but what Django did was on a whole nother level.

    Should it be necessary to speak on the famous bridge reharmonization of "Well You Needn't" by Miles Davis? Was Miles Davis still learning Jazz? Maybe he confused and missed something in Monk's charts?

    Probably not in that case...but those guys made lots of mistakes too! Hey, it's jazz: play it once it's a mistake, play it twice it's cool!

    If you have doubts on Django's harmonization capabilities you just have to put Rosenbergs aside for a while and put on again Django's records. The difference in harmony is trully huge. In fact Django's state-of-the-art isn't found in what you call "Gypsy Jazz Music":

    Hey, no one has transcribed more of Django's harmony than me! I think he was very skilled...he had a distinct harmonic sense that was uniquely his.


    'm
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,261
    I agree with Scot. I think it is equally as astonishing to suggest that the guitarists who accompanied Django did not know what they were doing as it is to suggest Django did not know. Django used "La Pompe" in the 30s because that is what he wanted to do. It was certainly nothing to do with anyone's technical or harmonic limitations. The HCQ rhythm guitarists may not all have been brilliant soloists but they were good accompanists.

    Perhaps they could not keep always pace with Django's ideas but that was because he was a creative genius and very few people, no matter how good they are, can keep pace with such a person. Even Stephane struggled on occasions.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,153
    :lol::lol::lol: Mmm. I rather thought Michael's comments would upset Spatzo and I must admit I agree in principle with everything Spatzo says. I think it is quite astonishing to even suggest Django did not know what he was doing. :shock:

    Yes, I suppose we like to think of our hero's as infallible...but to me it's much more interesting when we see them as real people who have flaws just like anyone. Of course, Django was an unparalleled musical genius and IMO pretty much invented jazz guitar. I think it only makes his greatness more real if we acknowledge both his strengths and weaknesses. With Django it's pretty tough to find even a single mistake on the 1000 or so sides he recorded. But it's fun to try and find them if you can...

    One example is his recording of El Manisero (Peanuts Vendor). I could never figure out what Django was doing on that recording. He was either lost or maybe he was going for some sort of minimalistic vibe. Maybe I'm missing something but to me it always sounded like he was a little unsure what to do.It's the only recording I think of were he's playing a Cuban tune so maybe he was a fish out of water on this one. What do you think?

    'm
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,261
    Maybe I'm missing something but to me it always sounded like he was a little unsure what to do.It's the only recording I think of were he's playing a Cuban tune so maybe he was a fish out of water on this one. What do you think?

    'm

    I think he was just messing about on some of the tracks from those Rome sessions. But listen to "Blue Skies" and he does seem to forget what chords he is soloing over in the middle eight.

    Much as I love his playing, I don't think he was infallable but he was as close to it as any musician has ever been; certainly any creative musician.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,153

    Grappelli mentioned this, how Django would complain about bass players, and how the accompanists couldn't follow Himself and Django. And he talked about having to settle for 'le pompe' because that's all they could get.

    Yes, I've read in several places were Grappelli complained about the accompanists. In Dregni's bio he quotes Grappelli as saying:


    Often it was just the two of us playing together because the rest of the musicians were incapable of following us.

    No doubt Django was an incredible accompanist...you're right, those duets are amazing. Probably the single best thing to study IMO. I learned a ton from transcribing those...
  • adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
    Posts: 545
    One example is his recording of El Manisero (Peanuts Vendor). I could never figure out what Django was doing on that recording. He was either lost or maybe he was going for some sort of minimalistic vibe. Maybe I'm missing something but to me it always sounded like he was a little unsure what to do.It's the only recording I think of were he's playing a Cuban tune so maybe he was a fish out of water on this one. What do you think?

    YES! I've had that same thought about that same recording! I've always assumed it was due to the different rhythm. What a crazy recording.

    Adrian
  • spatzospatzo Virtuoso
    Posts: 768
    Well of course Peanuts vendor is not the tune we will cycle on for monthes even if in many solos Django quotes that tune. He seems not very convinced playing it. For me it looks like it has been recorded just as they "tried" the tune. In fact Django for example stops his lazy solo when the piano enters, there is no organization at all, etc...

    The fact is that searching for eventual errors Django or another musician could have done could easily be considered as a pure waste of time. I do believe that it's better to point out where the greatness is nested and also to try to understand and appreciate it.

    We also have to consider that the contrast between simple rhythm chords against solo was very important in Django's works from the begining. It will then evolve in modal improvisation/accompaniment in tunes such as "Flêche d'Or" or "Impromptu".

    We also have to mention and remember that Django was also the first to compose modal tunes in Jazz History demonstrating that he perfectly mastered tonal harmony and was ready to go further.
    We will have to wait for more than 20 years before the birth of modal Jazz in the states.

    I guess Django wasn't following any Jazz school by correspondence, any "Gypsy Berklee" of the twenties. In those years they worked directly on the records and they were able to work out the chords of the tunes without any errors.
    Django had done it on so many records that he had perfectly understood and mastered the jazz harmony. But the same is true for other players such as Marcel Bianchi for example that "studied" the Quintet charts/impros on the records long before he met Django that welcomed him on board by saying "you play like us!"

    Let us consider now who worked out the chords on the swing rendition of the Dm Bach Double Violin Concerto? South, Grappelli or Django? (it was pretty hard to find the charts for Bach tunes) :shock: Did our "learning" Django worked it out from some Eddie Lang/Joe Venutti unknown record?
    :D
  • SpaloSpalo England✭✭✭✭ Manouche Guitars "Modele Jazz Moreno" No.116, 1980's Saga Blueridge "Macaferri 500", Maton 1960's Semi, Fender Telecaster, Aria FA65 Archtop
    Posts: 186
    Yes, I know that recording of Peanut Vendor and for some perverse reason on my part I've always really liked it. But having said that, it sounds to me as if Django loses interest very quickly and effectively gives up on it.

    The notes on my old vinyl LP which contains the track say it's an example of Django's 'sense of musical humour', but I'm not so sure. To my ears he's just struggling.

    I agree that's it's these little things that remind you that he was human after all.

    SP
  • thripthrip London, UKProdigy
    Posts: 153
    Spalo wrote:
    it sounds to me as if Django loses interest very quickly and effectively gives up on it.

    The notes on my old vinyl LP which contains the track say it's an example of Django's 'sense of musical humour', but I'm not so sure.

    I think it's probably a bit of both, it IS funny the way he grabs hold of that dissonance and shakes it like a dog with a dirty bone.

    As Teddy pointed out earlier he seems to be messing about on some of those tunes from the Rome sessions. They were just radio broadcasts and he probably didn't think they'd ever make it to vinyl! For example on "La Mer" he seems to be having a laugh with those upward glissando's.
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