The best of Europe’s devotees pay homage to the gypsy jazz master Django
Django Reinhardt introduced a passionate style of Gypsy Jazz guitar that was astonishing in the 1930s and is still revered today. In The Footsteps Of Django brings together the best of the new Gypsy Jazz masters of Europe: Lulo Reinhardt, a third generation master, whose Latin Swing Project combines gypsy jazz with Latin rhythms; Les Doigts de l’Homme, France’s leading contemporary gypsy jazz ensemble and, on her first American tour, Norig Gadji, a French singer with a Celtic name and Catalan roots.
In The Footsteps Of Django will perform in Three Stages on Thursday, Oct. 11. The concert is sponsored by Capital Public Radio.
Lulo Reinhardt, the grandnephew of the legendary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, was first taught by his father at the age of 5. At 12, he played in the Mike Reinhardt Sextet and later co-founded the group Django Reinhardt and the Heartbreakers.
In 2007 Saga Instruments of San Francisco made the first Lulo Reinhardt Model Gitane 310, modeled on the classic Gypsy guitars. This inspired Lulo to compose more Swing material, which he combined with Latin music, and in 2007 changed the name of his group to the Lulo Reinhardt Latin Swing Project. The group recorded its first CD in 2008
The Lulo Reinhardt Latin Swing Project has an extensive international touring history. In additional to annual Australian tours beginning in 2008, it has played in the United States, China, France, Switzerland, Belgium, England, the Czech Republic, Scotland and Germany. Lulo also performed as a soloist with the International Guitar Night troupe in 2009, going to the U.K., Canada and America (including Three Stages).
France’s leading contemporary gypsy jazz group, Les Doigts de l’Homme, formed as a trio with guitarists Olivier Kikteff, Yannick Alcocer and double bassist Tanguay Blum in early 2003. The group’s first album, “Dans Le Monde,” followed, and the musicians honed their style by gigging on the street. Word of their energetic and fresh sound soon spread, and by February 2004 they exploded on the scene and played a 70-concert French tour. In 2008 they expanded to a quartet with the addition of guitarist Benoit Convert, already a well-respected gypsy jazz soloist. The group’s fuller sound was showcased on the 2008 album “Les Doigts Dans La Prise,” another record welcomed with rave reviews.
Daily newspaper Ouest-France captured their appeal, noting, “This band brings a hint of world music, an energy close to punk bands, and an unmistakable authenticity.”
Coming from diverse musical backgrounds, the musicians have been brought together by a deep mutual passion for gypsy jazz. On earlier albums, Les Doigts de l’Homme skillfully integrated rock, world music and gypsy elements, while “1910” has a more singular creative focus. It is designed as an homage to the true father of gypsy jazz — guitarist/composer Django Reinhardt, with the title referring to Django’s year of birth. As the centenary of Reinhardt’s birth approached, Les Doigts de l’Homme decided to mark the milestone by recording a new album inspired by his music.
“We wanted to pay a heartfelt tribute to Django’s music and to the amazing musical legacy he has given to us,” Guitarist Olivier Kikteff explained. “He is a perpetual source of inspiration.”
Django Reinhardt died in 1953, but a half century later he would surely have been proud of the approach Les Doigts de l’Homme have taken in its tribute. Django was influenced and inspired by such varied styles as New Orleans jazz, French accordion music, and American popular music, and a similarly eclectic feel is audible on “1910.”
The songs of the gypsies are a murmur, a cry, a call, an incantation, where joy and melancholy restlessly mingle. Norig Gadji is a French singer with a Celtic name and Catalan origins. And Norig’s powerful voice, which ranges from that of a child’s to a woman in her prime, is never more celebrated then on the stage. Bathed in the spotlight, she is free to show the full intensity of her talent and underscore the beauty of gypsy music.
“A proud manner and a voice that gives you the chills. The ballads evoke an aroma of drama that echoes of carousing and feasts. Norig, embraced by the gypsies whose attention she captivates like spellbound children, is already a leading figure in the gypsy tradition.” — Remy Kolpa Kopoul
Norig has performed and toured with Sebastien Giniaux, both with the Sebastien Giniaux Balkan Project and as a duo. She has also recorded music for the soundtrack of Tony Gatliff’s film “Exils.” Her performance with In The Footsteps Of Django will mark her American debut.
Sebastien Giniaux is an eclectic, passionate musician, originally trained as a classical cellist. He discovered the guitar at age 19 through the music of Django Reinhardt. Over the past 10 years, he has collaborated with a wide range of musicians from Taraf de Haidouks to David Reinhardt. He has formed two bands of his own — the Sebastien Giniaux Balkan Project and the Sebastien Giniaux Trio — and most recently has been performing with Gadji.