Sunday, August 8, 2010



Journal Star
Posted Aug 08, 2010 @ 01:30 AM

Melodic yet improvisatory, soulful yet sweet, sophisticated yet approachable on an ear-catching level that goes straight to the gut - and often to the heart as well - Gypsy jazz has a storied and august ancestry. On one side stretch roots leading back to a vast collection of sounds and styles preserved by gypsies as they wandered from country to country across Europe. On the other are connections going straight back to another kind of "people's music," the kind nurtured in early 20th century New Orleans by the likes of Louis Armstrong.

Fusing the two was the task of Belgium-born guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-1953), a barely literate musician who escaped the fate of his fellow gypsies during the Holocaust in part because his musical gifts so charmed a jazz-loving Nazi official.

The charm persists among friendlier ears: Gypsy jazz remains popular in Europe, especially in France, where the Festival de Jazz Django Reinhardt is held annually at Samois-sur-Seine. But the music - also known in French as "jazz manouche" - has gained a following in North America as well, partly helped by Woody Allen's 1999 movie "Sweet and Lowdown," a mock-biopic about a fictional guitarist played by Sean Penn, who idolizes the great Gypsy-jazz guitarist.
As Eugene from Gogol Bordello said,  "so many people love our music, but hate our guts."
I especially find it interesting that Gypsy jazz is 'so very' popular in France.  Don't they see the irony?
And the beat goes on.........

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