Gypsy Jazz – Section

Gypsy Jazz is a style of music that was first developed in the Paris, France area by gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and his side-kick violinist Stephane Grappelli in the 1930’s and 40’s.  Gypsy Jazz, sometimes called “Hot Club” music after Django & Stephane’s original group “The Quintet of the Hot Club of France,” has made a resurgence in popularity in the past 10-15 years with many new 2nd (or 3rd!) generation hot young players coming onto the scene like, Robin Nolan, Stephane Wremble, and others.  Many “Django” Festivals happen world-wide.  Incredibly, Django played everything he did with just two fingers!  His pinky and ring fingers were severely disabled in a fire after he was quite accomplished.

Before Django, guitar was only an accompaniment instrument.  He was an iconic “game changer” and every guitarist since is indebted to him.  Even Heavy Metal guitarists are still studying his virtuosic and spirited licks to this day!

The music is always spirited, but never too heavy.  There is a humbling & fun quality to Gypsy Jazz that I personally came to love.  In its more advanced stages, it still requires the player to know all the jazz theory… but then also “forget” it all to wild abandon!  At it’s core, Gypsy Jazz is really just dance music.  Iconic entertainer, singer, trumpeter Louis Armstrong called it “happy jazz.”  Toe tapping stuff for sure.  Loved by all ages.

Historically I find it interesting that this unique style was being developed at the same exact time as both Western Swing and Bluegrass in the United States.  Sometimes these three styles will even borrow the same tunes!  For example, I’ve heard the song “All of Me” played by bands in all three of these styles.  We’ll cover Bob Wills’ Western Swing and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass in other lesson sections.

Lessons in this Section so far…
Gypsy Sound – Anatomy
Babik – gypsy BeBop
Bellville – spirited Gypsy Jazz!
Minor Swing – Django & Stephan’s best known song, heard in many movies.
It Don’t mean a Thing (if it ain’t got that swing) – famous jazz song
LeLuppe Bonzino – original song by Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry as first recorded on Babik’s “American Gypsy” CD.
Sweet Georgia Brown
Sweet Sustenance – original song by Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry as first recorded on Babik’s “American Gypsy” CD.
Juke Gypsy – gypsy jazz be-bop tune

More to come!… let me know is there is a Gypsy Jazz tune you’d like to learn!  I have plans for Dark Eyes, Noto Swing, Swing Gitan, Daphnie, Nuage, Latcho Drom, All of Me, and others.


10/10/13 below is an auto sorted list feature we are experimenting with.  Let us know if you like this (or not!).  It automatically lists any lesson or post we have on the site with the Gypsy Jazz category assigned to it (this way we know that it is up-to-date!).

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