old article about bireli



  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,263

    That is undoubtably incredible playing for someone of that age (someone of any age in fact) but I think the review pretty much describes what I feel when I listen to Bireli's early stuff. He is very young here and young people like to be flashy where technique is more important than musical content. Just listen to young guys playing this music today and they make Bireli seem very restrained here: they are all technique and speed but musically somewhat moribund.

    I think constructive criticism is a good thing and we should not get tetchy if someone makes statements that are less than totally positive about our "heroes" if they have substance. We should also remember that appreciation of music is a very subjective thing.

    The fact is that many jazz critics and fans feel gypsy jazz has developed into being all about "chops" with little real musical content.

  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161

    I went and listened to that recording of Bireli supposedly getting lost. He is not getting lost at all but it’s definitely true that it’s a bit of a trickier tune due to their very strange harmonization. He’s definitely not in his element because of it, but he definitely knows the chords because you can hear him connecting them properly but with also with a lot of nervousness and hesitation. On one occasion over what would probably be an Em7b5 chord he insists on a totally wrong note (G#).

    The bass and rhythm guitars are sometimes playing weird harmonies that sound a bit odd.. Furthermore, on top of their strange harmonization, they are completely ignoring the second half of the tune (!!) . Imagine playing All Of Me but never going to the second half; that’s pretty much what they are doing. I wonder how they learned that tune and who’s idea it was to play it!

    About the tuning issues, it’s something I noticed among the Sinti and even Django. They seem to have this way of tuning where they just tune by “feel”. When I’m with them, they often ask me to tune the guitar for them. When we recorded the Wawau album, I had to constantly tune Wawau and Hono’s guitars. There’s a televised live concert of Dorado where one of the rhythm guitar players is a quarter step out of tune and it’s extremely noticeable. They play the entire concert that way. In the number of times that I’ve been in the studio with Bireli, I also noticed this peculiar of tuning.

    Finally about the constant 8th note phrasing. That seems very typical of a lot of Gypsy Jazz players past like the 1960s. Even Fapy plays that way. I think Duved is one of the few who is not playing in that way

  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    edited September 2023 Posts: 352

    It's interesting what you say about Bireli and tuning, because I saw him at Jazz Alley the other day and, out of nowhere, in mid tune, he dropped his low E to low D faster than anything I had ever seen. It was like Hendrix on steroids. He did it another time that night to, but didn't quite arrive at the desired note, but quickly adjusted. With that said, during mid show he took a pause to tune his guitar with the tuner attached to the headstock of his guitar.

    I like constant 8th note phrases, if the player has something to say, like Fapy and many of the jazz greats. I personally love Jimmy Rosenberg's demonic shredding.

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