Speed kills the swing/time to get back to dancing.



  • Adrian Holovaty is an excellent example of someone who has great rhythm and I witnessed him playing virtually the same style with all players. He's a hell of a lead player too.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Agreed, Jim. It's been nice for me to see him once in 2008, and then since online and at DIJ. A really phenomenal (and generous player). I'm trying to track him down for some webcam lessons, actually. Listening to him, and then this "Hono Winterstein III," the performance-context rhythm streams, though they're obviously different players, I'm getting that same elusive, subtle upstroke, something I really would like to get a handle on. I may even try to do the 5 hr roundtrip for several weeks, coming up, as he teaches out of Old Town School, Chicago.

    BTW, anyone have a good contact e-mail for Adrian? (Not sure if the one I have is still current).

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 561
    Hey Paul,

    If you're on facebook, you can find Adrian there. I did.


  • I have his email

    Send me yours. To <!-- e --><a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a><!-- e -->
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Thanks, guys. I actually did get a hold of Adrian and plan on studying with him a bit. Appreciate the assistance, though.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 654
    It's easy to criticize gratuitous speed - I know, I have done it here many times. Personally, I much prefer the more relaxed style of Sarrane Ferret, Joseph Reinhardt, Francis Moerman and similar players. But for now, and for better or worse, speed is the coin of the realm, and I don't see that going away . That's fine with me, every aspect of this music has it's own charms. I do think there are changes afoot for this kind of music as younger players like Sebastien Ginieux and Antoine Boyer, with more influences and new ideas, move to the forefront. But this isn't dance music anymore and isn't going to be. There are many reasons for this, but basically it's because the most influential players of the last 30 years or so can and do play with incredible speed and precision. It's the first thing you hear with this music, it's what draws people in, it's what people want to learn. Plus, technique and speed are easy to teach, and musicality is nearly impossible to teach. Each musician has to find this for himself. And as with any sort of craft, you do have to master the technical aspect before you can "express yourself".

    Anthon, in another recent thread I suggested that Django really does not have much to do with what is called "gypsy jazz" today. I stand by that. This old post has a lot of good writing on the subject: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8 . People claim allegiance to Django, but I honestly think that lightning-fast guitarists like Stochelo, Angelo Debarre, Birili, and Jimmy Rosenberg are much more influential for a lot the modern generation - especially so for younger guitarists.

    I have been involved with this music for 20 years now, but in a kind of isolated way. I have not been to any of the big festivals and not at Django in June for 6 or 7 years. I heard something quite different in Northampton this year. What I heard were many N American guitarists who are getting along quite well with the technique, truly an amazing improvement over the last few years. And in the various jam sessions I listened in on, while there was a lot of speed (people always play fast at jam sessions), I also heard a lot of original ideas and a surprising lack of cliches. I have never been so encouraged with the state of things here on our continent. We are on our way to developing a true N American style. It's a few years away, but it's coming.

    If you prefer a more relaxed and swingy style, play it that way. There are many ways to play this music, all equally valid and worthwhile. But I wouldn't expect the current fixation on speed and the "djangocentric" repertoire to change much anytime soon.

    And BTW, my family and I had a great time at Django in June. We were sort of on the "tourist" visa and were there to visit friends as much as anything. But the quality of playing really was great and the entire vibe was just so friendly and generous. Big thanks to Andrew for all his hard work!
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,857
    Great thread with interesting contributions from everyone; thanks, Anthony, for getting the ball rolling.

    One thing I'd like to share with others who are like me, more on the "swing" end as opposed to the "speed" end of the spectrum (in my case, mostly because I just can't play all that terribly fast anyway :mrgreen: )

    Question: Have you ever thought of sitting in with your local dixieland or swing band? Because there's probably such a band not far from you.

    They'd probably welcome a gypsy-style rhythm guitar as a novelty, but if not, you could get yourself a banjo and tune it "Chicago-style" ie DGBE like the top four strings of the guitar.

    For this you'd want to use a longer necked "plectrum" banjo and not the shorter necked "tenor" banjo... if you're not sure, count the frets, you want the one that has 22 frets not the shorter 19 fret job.

    These bands generally prefer swing over speed, and their repertoire does tend to have a fair bit of overlap with many of the GJ standards you probably already play... just one warning, they generally avoid the sharp keys and prefer the flat ones... but you'll soon get used to that.

    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 673
    What a great thread!
    Lot's of great things. I have to say that I agree with Ted- Speed has its place in the world of Jazz, and gypsy jazz. Having said that, we need to get back to swing. Django Listened to American jazz artists, and so do many of the great modern players. When asked about how to play better rhythm Hono said- listen to drummers! Some "modern" tunes happen very, very, very fast (Bird, Diz, even Monk had tunes that happened a quite high tempos, to say nothing of Django).
    To quote the old saw "it don't mean a thing if It ain't got that swing". Tempo regardless. We have a singer, and she sings on just about every tune- some are fast, some are slow; you need to be comfortable and in control at every speed. I'd love to hear a good bit of improvement in the general level of American rhythm playing (where less of us have a drastic difference between beats; more of a deep growling push each time - check out Hono, Yayo Reinhardt, Ted, and Mathieu Chatlain) so it really swings well every time we play! As Scott said, it's coming.
    Really happy to see such interest in the boyers- their playing is great, and use of free (rubato) time over a groove is one of my favorite things about their playing- it can sound out of time, but I'm not convinced it's a mistake. Also thrilled to hear someone like Gonz play- he can really rip it, but it has a sense of swing his voice is so unique, same with Adrien Moingard. . . in terms of American playing- I agree with Scott, I hope to see us develop our own style and push forward new voices in the music. As Barry Harris always says- The European players are just about all technically better, but they want what we have- the feel, the swing. Now pat your foot!" - I think this could apply to gypsy jazz as well.
  • marcelodamonmarcelodamon Hattiesburg, MS✭✭✭ 2005 AJL Modèle Marcelo Damon Selmer copy, 2020 Aylward Favino copy
    Posts: 31
    This is an excellent post and embodies a sentiment I have had for a LONG time with regard to the rediscovery of this music and its incidental resurgence. When I first started playing this music almost 20 years ago there were no resources for learning this style, save for the few CD's of Django that my friend, a sax player, loaned to me, and a few lessons from Alphonso Ponticelli, who was starting out himself at the time.

    Despite the rather large collection of various jazz guitarist CD's said friend loaned me it was Django's melodic inventiveness and uniqueness that made him stand out over all others in that collection. From the first time I heard him, in 1994, I was hooked. Again, it was because in every solo I heard, he always had a moment of pure melodic genius. Something very musically memorable that stuck with you after the song was over. Granted, his technique was flawless, but I never felt that it was the most prominent aspect of his playing; it always took a back seat to creating a melodic, well-structured, beautiful solo. Django was king at this, as Joe Pass often talked about.

    So, fast forward to today, and we have a whole new generation of players that are drawn to the modern gypsy jazz players largely because of the virtuostic technique. I haven't been to or played a festival in a while (2005 was the last time when I opened for Angelo Debarre) but even then people were only really interested in chops as opposed to playing melodically. I won't deny that you should develop your chops to a virtuostic level, but I don't think it is the only aspect of your playing worth developing. I remember Gonzalo when he started, he was all chops. But listen to him now, he plays beautifully. He has bridged the divide between chops and melodic inventiveness, just as the greatest players do. Listen to Stochelo's solos on "Seresta" and then on "Roots" - They are night and day in terms of improvisational styles; with the latter being superior in my opinion. Other examples abound.

    I guess it all boils down to what kind of player you want to be. An overt virtuoso with no melodic inventiveness (a physical player of the guitar in all respects), or a replete virtuoso with a stout command over all aspects of creative improvisation (of which chops plays a concurrent role with your creativity). I can tell you, from transcribing well over 300 solos from everyone to Django to Pat Metheny, that there are truly only a handful of players that drew from the entire musical spectrum. In terms of guitarists Django is first on my list, followed by Joe Pass, then George Benson. Additionally, it is actually easier to rip through your tried and true arpeggios than to actually create something melodically beautiful and enduring. This is why players that play fast ALL the time (Jimmy Rosenberg and that school of playing) have a hard time playing on ballads, and why the repeat the same licks over and over in every song they play on.

    Just something to think about!!!

    Marcelo Damon
  • oldsoutholdsouth New
    Posts: 52
    I love this post, because it follows a lot of my sentiments. Frankly, I think jazz would be far more popular - even in mainstream/pop music venues, radio, etc, if we got back to vocal jazz, dancing and fun. To me, the whole thing has just gotten way to academic! Listen to some old Fats Waller or Stuff Smith or the Hot Club doing Stuff Smith's Ise A' Muggin. That is just fun, foot tapping exuberance! Music really should be fun for everyone. Many musicians have fun competing with each other to prove who can play the fastest or with the most complexity, but anyone in the audience who isn't a die-hard devotee does not.

    Actually, this is the reason I got out of playing the bluegrass music I grew up with - the emphasis on super fast picking becomes monotonous and tiring. I am not a very fast picker by nature - I can do it, but I hear music in a more lyrical and bluesy way. Once I was up at the Carter Fold - the home of the Carter Family (founders of country music in America) - they have a little stage with a dance floor and covered seating on a hill, where for almost 100 years locals and folks from all over the world have gathered to hear the best mountain music - mostly old time and bluegrass. The folks are friendly and it is a magical place. One of the best things is watching the dancers buck-dancing, clogging or two-stepping. You can see folks in their 90s who live for this dancing as their recreation and socializing - little kids are out there learning from them, couples, families, etc. It is just really great! Anyway, that time I reference, a series of great bands had played before the "big name" headlining bluegrass band took the stage. After a few minutes, all of the dancers sat down. They just played too fast and no one really enjoyed it. As soon as the next band came out, the dancers flooded the floor again and everyone was smiling, laughing and enjoying themselves once more.
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