May Song Of The Month--Swing 39

MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
in History Posts: 389

This month's song is as classic as it gets in this genre. Written in 1939 (hence the name) by Django & Stephane, it was first recorded by the Hot Club on March 21, 1939 in Paris. That version remains my favorite. Other Django recordings of it are from Paris in 1947 & from Rome in 1949.

This is a standard that every gypsy jazz guitarist should know. It is often called at jams, but the form is quite long, so sometimes forms will be shared by soloists so that it doesn't go on forever. (My trio will sometimes skip the bass solo to trim down the time).

Some charts have the A sections beginning with the 1 chord (Bflat) while others have them starting with the 6 chord (the relative minor, Gmin). I've always thought it was nice the way they have it go to G major at the end of each A section. Here's a link to the aforementioned version:

Interestingly, legend would have it that in 1939, the Quintette had become extremely popular and every American jazz artist that visited Europe sought after Django. Indeed, Duke Ellington met him a few weeks after Django recorded this. Other notable recorded versions include those by Pearl Django, David Grisman and Charlie Byrd. I'll post the chart that my band uses later (we use the one with the A sections beginning with Gmin).



  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 473

    I like starting with Bb, because it confuses the ear a little as you go through the changes.

  • Posts: 4,833

    Seems like 1939 is G- and 1949 Rome is in Bb?

    I could never decide what I like better. G- can have that haunting quality but sometimes it sounds like it doesn't make enough harmonic difference between it and C9. With Bb, everything is perfect, which sometimes you don't want that.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    I like to play

    X X

    X X

    7 9

    4 8

    X 7

    5 8

    For the first 2 chords that way it doesn't matter what the bass is playing Bb or Gm for the first chord but I like Bb.

  • Posts: 81

    Great song, fantastic thread - thx OP. I really need to learn this one, has always been a fave due to how idiosyncratic the changes are compared to other swing tunes.

  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
    Posts: 389

    Thanks voutoreenie, It is in a class by itself. Here's the chart my band uses (to all you Bflat fans, I apologize for the Gmin!):

  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 473

    How about using Gm, except switch to Bb for the last time around, when the head is played again? It would have a surprising, uplifting, optimistic feel -- a song in a minor key turned into one in a major key (sort of). (Probably much needed in 1939 France!)

  • Posts: 4,833

    Usually, in our band when it's a question of do we play this or that in the arrangement when both "this or that" sound great and we can't make up our mind, it's let's play both that's the best solution.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BillDaCostaWilliamsBillDaCostaWilliams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos, Altamira M01F, Huttl
    Posts: 646

    Here's the chart my band uses

    Thanks Mike, that's the one I've used also along with this harmony line

    However in this Django FakeBook version the two lines are in unison for the B section whereas I harmonise the C#,D, A etc. line with B,C, F#

    How do others do it?

  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 473

    A bit off-genre, but the original (and best) recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" has Earl Scruggs going to Em on banjo, while Lester Flatt, apparently clueless,plays E major on guitar. That was part of the appeal of the song.

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