Saturday, March 08, 2003

Sadly, posting will probably get even scarcer here for the next little while. We've mostly completed the move to our new house but there is no internet connection set up there till the DSL gets set up in 2 weeks. I'm not posting from work, so that means there won't be the possibility of posting.

Last night we took advantage of being in Oakland and made our way over to world class jazz house Yoshi's to see the virtuoso gypsy guitarist Bireli Lagrene. Of course, almost any professional gypsy jazz guitarist is going to be a virtuoso, but I'm told Bireli stands out from the crowd. Gypsy jazz, modeled after the Django Reinhardt's Hot Club Quintet, has it's own sub-culture, smaller even than that of bluegrass. I understand it is bigger in Europe, where most of the modern practioners hail from. In fact, a lot of the top players are Gypsy's like Django. It seems after Django gained his fame in the jazz world, his musical style took over among Gypsy's, in many cases even supplanting the Gypsy's traditional music. This led to a large crop of Gypsy youths who were raised to play guitar a la Django, and since they've been doing it since they were 3, they tend to be pretty good at it.
Bireli is an interesting case because after he made a mark at 13 as sounding more like Django than Django, he went on to become a well regarded jazz fusion player, playing electric guitar with fusion stalwarts like bassist Jaco Pastorius. Just recently he decided to return to his roots and record and tour with a Gypsy jazz band. He looks like he's having a ton of fun playing this style of music and I liked it enough that I'm thinking of breaking this month's concert budget and going to see him again Sunday afternoon.

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