Gypsy jazz, or “hot club jazz,” also known as “manouche jazz,” which literally translates to “traveler jazz,” was born in Paris, and blends Roma (Gypsy) traditional forms with elements of American jazz and swing. The typical manouche ensembles consist of a lead guitar, violin, two rhythm guitars and bass, but, unlike most jazz groups, has no percussion. Nonetheless, like jazz, the music is known for its pulsing rhythms, as well as sections of improvisation. Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) is generally considered the leading proponent of what became among the most well-liked and prevalent music in the free-wheeling avant garde circles of Paris. Born into a Manouche family living in a Gypsy encampment on the outskirts of Paris, Reinhardt embraced the folk-oriented music of his heritage, performing first on the banjo-guitar, and later on guitar. His musical curiosity led him to explore the new jazz that was popular in the Paris cabarets and bars, and, with violinist Stephane Grappelli (1908-1997), he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France.
Classically trained in a music conservatory starting at age four, Stephane Wrembel’s life took a decisive turn in his late teens when he discovered the music of Django Reinhardt and the Gypsies. He spent the next ten years learning this musical tradition playing around their campfires and trailers. Although he built his reputation as a stylist in the mode of Reinhardt, Wrembel’s work now revels in transcending and expanding, touching upon everything from blues to flamenco to rock. As Wrembel states, “I like to believe that my music is beyond any one genre and that there is something in it for everyone. It’s not only for the rock music lover, or for the Django lover; it’s not only for the jazz lover, or for just young people or old people. It’s for the music lover.” Tonight’s program includes “Bistro Fada,” the theme you may recognize from the Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris. Stephane delivers Origins, his fifth album, on May 15, 2012.
Stephane Wrembel, guitar
Roy Williams, guitar
Nick Anderson, drums
Dave Speranza, upright bass
David Langlois, washboard and percussion