Denis Chang's Jazz Manouche DVD - The Art of Accompaniment

viperviper VermontNew
edited April 2007 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 51
Ladies and Gents,

I thought I'd post a review about an excellent resource that I just received - Denis Chang's Jazz Manouche DVD - The Art of Accompaniment. If you are really serious about learning this style, you are probably aware that rhythm playing is at the root. I've heard and read that the Gypsies* usually start off playing rhythm and that any lead player worth his salt is a very solid rhythm player first. (*Disclaimer - I use the term Gypsy with all due respect. I realize that it has been used in a derogatory fashion from time to time, but I think we all agree that in this respect we are speaking of musical royalty.)

Now I'm a little strange as far as North American Jazz Manouche guitarists go - I have very little interest in playing lead, so I've searched far and wide to soak up Gypsy rhythm. I have been studying the art of ‘la pompe’ for a few years and feel very lucky to have found Denis. He is clearly a remarkable player, student, and foremost, teacher. I've had the good fortune of studying rhythm with Denis and others - Hervé Gaguenetti, Michael Horowitz, and Dave Kelbie - all great teachers. This forum is also chock full of information and there are other web sites, but none of them could possibly get the essence of this music across the way it has been passed down traditionally, person-to-person, watching, listening, and repeating. That's why I'm glad I got Denis' DVD.

I don't know about you, but I can't get up to Montreal for a lesson every week and the festival workshops and master classes are even fewer and farther between. That is why the way Denis and HyperHip set up this DVD is excellent. If I want to access some exercises, look at some details about tremolo, upstroke and downstroke, what to be attentive to in my left and right hands, explore some of the more complex rhythms and effects used in Jazz Manouche, look at traditional chord shapes, progressions, intros and outros, Denis' DVD has it and more. The beauty of it is that you can view just Denis' instruction or view the whole track to see how his students interpret his teaching and how he makes adjustments to their playing. It is set up much in the fashion of watch, listen, and repeat - just like the Gypsies have passed music down since the time of Django and beyond.

The take home: Denis' DVD is the best rhythm resource I have found so far, short of going to Europe and spending a few months (years?) studying with the masters.


Keep swingin',



  • Posts: 597
    Wow. Another good review. I may just have to order this!!!
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    viper wrote:
    I've heard and read that the Gypsies* usually start off playing rhythm and that any lead player worth his salt is a very solid rhythm player first.

    This may be true of most any genre. As a former bluegrass player, I would have to say that a major revelation to me was listening to the classic duet album that Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs recorded decades ago. Rice is known for an amazing lead technique that revolutionized bluegrass guitar, but on this album he shows some of the most beautiful (and wonderfully simple) rhythm chops one could imagine.

    Anyone who has seriously tried it knows that rhythm is a whole specialty in itself. There's a very good reason that Freddie Green is revered as a master of swing rhythm - it is hard!

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • skiski Boston, USANew
    Posts: 86
    I ordered my copy of the DVD about a week ago - can't wait to get it!

    Thanks for the review!

  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,752
    Hi all,

    Thought I'd add that I posted a review here over the weekend as well...I really think this dvd fills a BIG hole in gypsy jazz tuition...there's no excuse for bad rhythm playing anymore!

  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    thanks guys, just got back from NY with Am Ketenes, we nearly died, there was a freak snowstorm and many people died, but we made it after 13 hours on the road when it would've usually taken 6 hours.. phew...
  • DiggerDigger New
    Posts: 77
    I've just got my copy of your dvd, Dennis. It's a great piece of work. Thanks and well done.
    Glad you survived the inclement weather, but if you hadn't at least we'd have had the dvd to remember you by.........."if by a man's works he shall be known", and all that. :lol::lol:
  • DiggerDigger New
    Posts: 77
    Dennis, the first basic effect (by the way, the first thing I've learnt is that basic doesn't mean easy) is essentially 1 2 3^4, isn't it?
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    hi digger, sorry for the late reply, i've been busy and didnt see this post, i'm not sure what the first basic effect is... would it be the little rhythm "break"?

    you can put it in a number of different places but it's usually on the 3rd beat!
  • blindjimmyblindjimmy phoenix,az✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 119
    great dvd ! after spending a couple of years learning to grab these chords at will, and using the mehling and dunn rhythm videos, i still sounded like i had cow poop on my weenie ( why do you think they're called cow-pokes anyway ) , i was all set to play in a country swing band. this dvd really filled in the gaps, i could have missed it, but i dont remember either of these guys explaining how to choke the chord on the first and third beat. that makes a LOT of difference. i have a question, in wrembels book, he makes a point of stating that the second and fourth beats are not played louder or shorter than the other two beats, i think he even refers to that as a crime. dennis's video seems to show the even beats being whipped harder than the odd beats, with a stroke of shorter duration. whats up with this. thank you, this dvd is a great help.
    shut up and play your guitar
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    actually, i didn't (at least i hope i didn't) say that the second and fourth beats should be louder... i simply meant that it has a more percussive sound than the 1st and 3rd beats hence the whipping...

    indeed the difference in volume between the 2 beats should be fairly minimal.. at any rate not drastic enough to hear a huge contrast in volumes

    however, i personally do believe that in general the 2nd and 4th beats are held shorter ... but stephane is a buddy of mine, he has a specific vision of how rhythm should be played, and if it's played his way (which i do talk about) then it's true that everything is more or less equal
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