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date: 03 June 2020

Jazz Manouchelocked

  • Siv B. Lie
  •  and Benjamin Givan

Extract

Jazz manouche, also known as ‘Gypsy jazz’, is a musical style based primarily on the 1930s recordings of French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910–53) with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Well-known 21st-century exponents include Biréli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Tchavolo Schmitt, and Adrien Moignard. The style characteristically features stringed instruments (primarily the acoustic steel-stringed guitar, violin, and double bass) in ensembles of between three and six musicians. Repertoire largely comprises American and French popular songs dating from the 1920s and 30s, such as ‘All of Me’, and tunes composed by Reinhardt, such as ‘Minor Swing’, ‘Nuages’, and ‘Django’s Tiger’. Performances consist of accompanying guitarists playing a duple-meter percussive chordal stroke called la pompe over a pizzicato walking bass line while soloists take turns improvising virtuosically on the harmonies of a cyclically repeating form, typically 32 bars long (see example). Improvised melodies often use techniques derived from Reinhardt’s recordings; eighth notes are swung and tempi vary considerably, sometimes exceeding 300 quarter notes per minute. Jazz manouche originated in the late 1960s, when music inspired by Django Reinhardt’s improvisations and repertoire began to be played in some Romani communities (the term ‘jazz manouche’ was never used during Reinhardt’s lifetime and did not gain currency until around the year ...

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