A Rookie Gypsy Jazzer

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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:55 pm

A Rookie Gypsy Jazzer

Post by Ahab »

Hi there,

My first post on this forum so I thought I'd share with you some of the reasons I have embarked on my journey to be a true gypsy jazz player, cin as much as that is possible, not being a romany gypsy, and never having lived in a caravan, except once when I was holiday as a child. That doesn't count though I think.

I first started to really get into music when I was about 8, and I was a budding saxaphone player. My father was/is an accomplished sax player and I suppose he wanted me to follow in his footsteps. I listened to a lot of jazz, consciously and unconsciously as it always on around the house. However one musician stood out. I think you can guess who I mean.

My dad had a Django Reinhardt compilation on cassette, and I used to listen to it very often. I was enchanted by his virtuousity, his tone. The way the arpeggios and scales just seemed to cascade out of Django's hands, like a magician casting a spell.

As I got older I drifted away from Jazz music, and I sort of drifted away from the sax in favour of the guitar. I suppose I wanted to fit in with my peers, and as I was a bit of a rebellious teenager, I identified with rock and indie music. I listened to the old R&B guys, the way it evolved into the rock scene of the late sixties. Hendrix, Clapton, Page - these were my new heroes. I also listened to a lot of soul and funk. Wonder, Gaye and James Brown really informed my playing style.

Eventually, after much practice and much effortt to a fairly advanced level, and then my horizons started to expand again musically. I'd left home by this point, went to university, was introduced to the new wave scene, and also the folk scene, and I played with lots of different musicians, from folk finger pickers to synth and computer guys, to rockers, singer-songwriters.

I played a lot of gigs, lots of venues, different audiences, but...after a while I knew that something was missing. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I blamed a lot of things, and as a musician, there's nothing worse that becoming disenchanted with your art. It saps you, and you lose the will to keep learning, to keep trying. I think I was getting to that point. Despite all this, I continued listening to jazz off and on, and also Django. Recently I saw a performance of gypsy jazz group, and it spoke to me in a way I hadn't felt since I was a child. It truly inspired me, and I fell in love with music again. To be more specific, the music of Django Reinhardt.

I think that one of the reasons, that I never actively wanted to study his music before was that I guess I just never saw it as fashionable! How foolish I was, beautiful music never goes out of fashion, because it transcends fashion. Also, if I'm honest, the technical requirements required to play that music put me off. Technically it is challenging, but in my opinon, that is secondary to the feeling that it contains, and it is that combination of passion and skill that is so engaging. It is daunting, and humbling. However that can be a positive thing, and it is for this reason that I feel inspired again.

So it feels as if I come full circle, and I ready to embark on another musical journey, I'm sure it will be a good one!

Thanks for reading my rambling post.
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:39 pm

Post by delboy »

Hi Ahab.

Great story, great first post - I'm new here myself and pretty much just (still!) embarking on this journey.

My background is similarish, and my reason for trying to play this music is, rather like yours, it gets under my skin, speaks to me, won't leave me alone... all of that.

I know all journeys start with a single step. I just need to work out how to take steps two and onwards now :?

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