What's Your Gypsy Jazz Origin Story???

jlander9jlander9 ✭✭
edited February 2013 in History Posts: 90
I'm interested to hear what brought members of the community to play Gypsy Jazz. What was the moment that made you say "Damn! This is great music, I want to play like that?!"

I started back about 15 years ago, shortly after the movie Sweet and Lowdown came out. (I actually thought Emett Ray was a real guitar player, I had never heard of Django befor then). I loved the music so much I went out and bought the Swing Guitar book by acoustic guitar magazine.It had the tab to Minor Swing (the djangology 49 version). It blew my mind. Yet, as much as I tried I couldn't get passed the 10th measure so I quit and kept playing rockabilly. 15 Years later I find the book on my shelf, dusty and bent outta shape. I ran into Minor Swing and gave it another shot. Still couldn't get passed the 10th measure. However, now i was an adult and behold with age i've learned patience. Viola!!!! I got through the whole solo. I am hooked and Django became my hero. That was this May, four months later I sold a few of my old electric guitars, and books and replaced them with a Gj guitar and a bunch GJ books. Now I know a hand full of songs and have been learning the instrument as best I can. Never going back untill I play like Tchavalo!.. WHATS YOUR STORY???? 8) :?: 8) :?: 8) :?:


  • I lived around the block from a French restaurant and got to be friendly with the owners. I found out he played guitar and we started talking shop all of the time. He put together a duo with a sax player and I asked if I could play chords. I learned the chords to a few songs, was embarrassed thoroughly on my first gig and dug in deep. Three years later, I'm in pretty deep.
  • lezardlezard IrelandNew
    Posts: 53
    I found a transription of Minor Swing in a magazine and loved it, but it wasn't untill i looked more into Django and heard tunes like "When day is done" and "I'll see you in my dreams" that I decided to persue GJ as my main style...which was a pretty tall order as I had only just started playing guitar and sucked to high I suck to low heaven but at least I have a very pretty guitar.
  • blindjimmyblindjimmy phoenix,az✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 119
    Well i was aware of, and knocked out by Django back in high school , late 70's , but as someone who struggled just to play Skynyrd , i didn't even consider learning this music. About 9 years ago , i was listening to Hendrix and thinking , you know who could REALLY solo , Charlie Parker . So i'm listening to the bird for the next few weeks, missing the sound of the guitar , put on a Benny Goodman disc to hear Charlie Christian , and suddenly remembered Django .
    After a few weeks of listening to Django , i'm on the net and i find this website, people are raveing about someone named Bireli , and his Vienne DVD, so i bought it. Whoomp , there it is ! I'm hooked.
    Several years and a couple thousand dollars later , i'm almost halfway decent at the rhythm ,
    a joke as a soloist , and i cant remember how to play Skynyrd.
    shut up and play your guitar
  • In the 50's when i was little my best friends dad was an amazing pro swing guitar player. Technically at the same level as Django. He turned us on to the master.

    I bought my first Django record in the mld 60's. A double lp. Back then, a today, I still wonder at how a guy with onlyntwo fully funtioning fingers couldplay the inteo train chording on mystery pacific.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    I loved Django's music before I knew it was Django's actor living in L.A., used to go out every Wednesday night to this Italian place with friends. Back patio, beautifully canopied place, warm lights. My landlord played violin with his buddy on guitar, and it was gypsy swing. Knew nothing of Django at the time, but immediately fell for the music.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    Saw Bireli about 10 years ago. That did it for me.
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • Birelli's playing inspires me just listening..... Seeing him live .... Yep I get that one.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,459
    i was listening to django a lot in my late teens or early 20s, then i discovered romane some years later and found it to be a bit like django but with modern production quality, but it was hearing les doigts de l'homme album that actually got me thinking hey i should try to play this music !! but i didn't actually try because it seemed too hard.

    then some years later i was at the national folk festival in canberra and heard the sound of gypsy jazz in the picnic area, it was some guys djamming (who i later found out to be ewan mackenzie and mystery pacific). at the time i had no idea that you played this style on a special kind of guitar, i just heard "the" familiar sound and had to go have a look! made friends with ewan and he was very helpful and encouraging about learning the style, gave me a wegen pick and showed me the broken wrist thing, so i was able to get that right hand correct from the start. i kept in touch and asked on email later what he thought of the gitanes to buy and learn the style on .. he recommended a cigano as a better instrument, which was a good call. anyway, away i went .. i had to shop interstate to find a gypsy jazz guitar and i was the only guy playing the style in my city at the time, it remained that way for some years, which means i usually just played a lot of rhythm for horns / fiddles etc. which is good way to start in hindsight! learning from youtube a lot helped, it's a good time to be a guitarist with the internet and all that. driving up on the way to sydney i could sometimes meet up and play with james twyford (the other guy in my avatar), who lived in wollongong and was much more experienced in the style so he would show me a thing or two. he lives in paris now, but i moved to melbourne and have got a lot of guys to learn from down here now too :)
  • vincevince Davis & San Francisco, CANew
    Posts: 133
    I listened to Djangology 49 (the Italian session) after finding it in my Dad's massive jazz CD collection. The piano in the rhythm section and bad recording quality scared me away a bit off first. But the sound was implanted in my head. I also just received my first guitar as a gift — a cheap Epiphone electric my dad thought I'd mostly play Neil Young songs on. I later saved up some money and bought a best-of CD of Django and was blown away, but I think it was only until I saw this video (The Hot Club):

    and I received the Paul Mehling DVDs that I got started. But then college, jobs, etc would interrupt my learning processing. It's also hard to practice as much as needed with roommates who don't particularly like hearing triplet clichés repeated 1,000 times. Also, sadly, there's no one in Davis, CA that plays this style, so I don't have anyone to play with. Also, I never got the sound I wanted with the Gitane 250 I had, so that was frustrating.

    I think that was the first period of my origin story: mixed directions, frustration. Last year I upgraded to an Latcho Drom Djangology, and that vastly improved my sound and the money I dropped on it made me want to practice endlessly (I heard Wes Montgomery did this — buy an expensive guitar and then practice endlessly because he wanted to make it worth it). I've also been selling off every other guitar I have. We'll see where I go from here. Guitar is 49% about me wanting to be a good gypsy jazz player and 51% a way to wind down after stressful days as bioinformatician in plant sciences.
    I don't know whether I'll ever be an excellent player if I keep practicing, but I'm absolutely sure I won't be if I stop.
  • jlander9jlander9 ✭✭
    Posts: 90
    These are really cool stories. There's a tendency to believe that amazing musicians are all prodigies, gifted, naturals, that somehow they picked up the guitar one day and BAM!!! art and beauty is created from an effortless nothing! This may be the case for some, but not all. Even Django had to learn from someone and take time to practice! It's great to hear how many of you came to (dare i say?) fall in love with this music so much that you are willing to dedicate time, money, (risk relationships!!!) just to strum and pick that cool looking guitar. Also, its shows how music is a process, a lifelong process that's universal man, universal!
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