I was just reflecting back to the days when I was first planning my dissertation research (around 2000). Back then Gypsy jazz was a niche of a niche...so small a genre it barely made a blip on the radar. There were only a handful of bands: Pearl Django
and HCSF and the very first DjangoFest NW was in the works. Any recordings other than your run of the mill Django collections were near impossible to find. I had to fly to England to buy The Rosenberg Trio's Live at the North Sea Jazz Fest!
Many other CDs, such as Boulou Ferre's Pour Django
and Gypsy Dreams
had to be specialy imported...taking 6 months or more. Often they never arrived. There were only a few lutheirs active then...Michael Dunn (who has been building since the 60s!) and Shelley D. Park. Gypsy jazz literature was also hard to find and usually of poor quality. Unfortunately many of those early instruction books were written by musicians who wouldn't know a rest stroke if they saw one!
It's amazing what can happen in five years! Now there are Hot Club style bands in every region of the country, Djangofests
springing up everywhere (thanks Nick!), and more CDs
, and instruction books
to keep you holed up for a decade!
I'm wondering where everyone thinks this is going? Relatively speaking, Gypsy jazz is still a small niche. By comparison, Bluegrass, straight ahead jazz, and New Orleans music are much more popular. But there's something exciting about Django and the contemporary scene that might give it the potential to become very high profile at some point. There's something about this music that makes feature film makers, TV commercial producers, and documentary film makers eager to promote it. I suppose it's possible that a successful feature film about Django could cause a temporary Gypsy jazz fad. Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown
certainly brought a lot of attention to Django's music.
However, I think there are limitations. It will be amazing if Gypsy jazz even gets a big as bluegrass in N. America. If it does get bigger, my guess is that it will only be temporary. But I think that in twenty years there will still be a dedicated core of people playing this genre. And most of the ground work for that happened over the last five years!
Curious what others have to say.....