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Modern la pompe vs Django's rhythm

guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
in Welcome Posts: 47
When I started learning this music over 10 years ago, I was listening to a lot of Django and transcribing his solos. So, the sound and feel of his rhythm playing is something I'm closely familiar with. Then when I first heard Bireli (I think it was the Bireli and Friends dvd), I quickly noticed that rhythm had a different sound that was much more intense than the 1930s-1940s Django rhythm. I have noticed some of the earlier 1930s Django stuff like Rose Room and Sheik of Araby have a more even sound on all 4s, but the later 30s and 40s has the bouncing rhythm. Obviously both are valid and everything is a matter of taste, but there is a clear difference between what modern players are doing and Django's rhythm section--you can hear the difference in the samples below. I know the modern players have variations too, but I've listened to a lot of them and they are more similar than different in my opinion. I characterize the modern sound as more equal on all 4 beats, with a quicker up stroke. All the chords are very short/choked and sometimes 2 and 4 are completely choked. In many of the Django recordings there is a clear difference with a lighter 1 and 3, a less choked 2 and 4 and a more swinging up stroke. Overall the imbalance in the Django rhythm makes for a really nice, light, bouncing and swinging rhythm. The modern la pompe can sound a bit stiff with too much emphasis on 1 and 3 for my taste. I really like the swinging sound of Django's rhythm the best. Someone told me that Fapy Lafertin's playing was the most like Django, but I listened to many examples, and he's good, but it doesn't sound like Django to me. Does anyone know if there are modern Hot Club bands that do the more swinging rhythm like Django did in the 1940s?

Django's Coquette
Bireli's Coquette


  • To my ear Django's version has a really nice lilt to the rhythm. Quite a different feel from the Gypsy Project one.

    I find myself more moved by Django's version, Like I want to get up and dance or be strolling down the back streets of Montemarte on a spring day.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • cbwimcbwim ✭✭✭
    edited December 2013 Posts: 136
    Lately I've been really enjoying Fapy's '94-96 Le Jazz recordings which were apparently recorded with vintage equipment similar to what the Hot Club of France used. And his playing and the backup on these recordings is very similar in style and sound as well. He brought a pile of these to sell at DjangoFest in September. Boy am I glad I grabbed one of these! Fortunately, Michael sells them at

    My impression about the modern groups, especially in live performance, is that the beat is generally too fast, way too driven, and the phrase "too many notes" (coined in the movie "Amadeus") frequently comes to mind. The difference is the audience. In the past Django and the HCF played for the dance floor. These days many of these groups are playing for audiences sitting in their seats. Thus there are no human controls on the speed, the pulse, and the style. With dancers, they set the pace and the flow of the music.
  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    Posts: 47
    I agree about the tempos and dancing. This music in Django's time was all about swing dancing and having that bouncing rhythm. The new stuff has other cool elements, but it seems to have lost that feel.
  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    Posts: 47
    I totally agree about the mood and lilt in the Django rhythm. I like a lot of modern gypsy jazz, but nothing comes close to the happy, swingin' feel of Django's band.

    That said, I do like the rhythm sound of this Adrian Moignard version of Dinette: Of course he's playing a lot of Django's solo here, but the rhythm player has a nice bounce that's not too heavy on 1 and 3.

  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    Posts: 47
    Here are another couple of Django tunes that are good examples of this bouncing rhythm.

  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,413
    I personally feel Fapy's very close to the bouncing, "happy" pompe of the HCQF.

    Going to the Bireli/Vienne DVD, I agree that it's a much "harder" style. I don't know if that's even a "style" in that I've listened to a ton of Hono (in fact, in sheer volume, I've learned more from him - via Denis Chang - than anyone else), and I can't say I pick up as hard a hit elsewhere, as what I hear in a lot of the Vienne DVD. It's driving, but agreed, sometimes it doesn't swing too much, to me. And I don't think swing is necessarily the intention, on several of the pieces.

    I think there are several modern players with a very light touch. I'm especially fond of many Dutch players.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    edited December 2013 Posts: 47
    Here's a clip of Fapy. His rhythm player does the Django rhythm fairly well, but it's not quite as bouncy as Django.

    Here's a clip of Fapy with Paulus Schafer and this one definitely has the modern even on all 4s It's missing the swinging up stroke that Django's rhythm has. But maybe this is because it's not Fapy's band.

    Bireli playing Django's Tiger. The solo is genius, but the rhythm is more square than Django imo.

    Django's Tiger by Django. This rhythm when listened after the other three is night and day different.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,413
    Guit-box, I think we're hearing differently. You may know this, but the Sinti Music vid you have is actually one in a series - check it out (Here - Sheik of Araby). I hear the upstroke on your Coquette clip. I don't know that Fapy ever plays in the downstroke only style - I don't believe so. In my opinion, his sound is close to the HC. I just got Star Eyes in the mail. It actually has Django's Tiger, track 13. I guess I feel weird posting it, else I'd so so (which I know sucks). All I can tell you is by my ears, he plays in a very old-school way. I love him.

    On the first clip, not sure who you mean by Fapy's rhythm. Did you mean Lollo Meier, sitting next to him? I've listened to a lot of Lollo over the last few months, has come to be one of my favorite players. I don't think there's anyone playing rhythm like Fapy's approach today - which is great with me, as I'd hope we all have a different feel to our rhythm playing. I've improved, but it's no paradigm shift....just trying to keep time, sound good, and swing (because I like swing, more than latter-era stuff, generally).

    The Bireli clip has been talked about fact, looking it up, you and I were part of that discussion, lol. Here, as well. Aside from the volume thing (I personally think it's the camera being closer to Bireli), I like Bireli's backup here, though it's not my fave. Different flavors.


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    edited December 2013 Posts: 349
    Love it when Django slides out of his lead break and falls into a complimentary rhythm groove adding flourishes and tremelo to the le pompe, which is held down so solid by
    the other guys. That stuff might get in the way of another lead guitar, but not so much of a fiddle, horn, or piano IMHO.

    I prefer the dance/ swing feel.

    Thanks for posting these clips. I've been working on Coquette and this is a help.

    GJ has such strong rhythm guitar...nothing quite like it! One of the things that first attracted me to this stuff.
    Swang on,
  • guit-boxguit-box ✭✭
    Posts: 47
    I think I've figured out what is different about Django's rhythm. On closer listening,, opens strings can be heard on the up strokes. So, he's not just choking the strings between down beats by releasing the finger pressure and staying muted on the strings, he's lifting the fingers off the strings a tiny amount to allow a thicker open string sound on the up strokes--which, I think, makes the up strokes stand out more.. It's also that the up strokes are more pronounced and not as close to the down beats as many of the modern players. It feels really relaxed in the left hand to let it bounce on and off the strings a tiny amount each beat.
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