Fricke's Picks: A Gypsy Jazz Experience


I knew little about guitarist Stephane Wrembel when I caught his acoustic quartet, the Django Experiment — named after the Belgian Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt — opening for Patti Smith at New York's Bowery Ballroom in December. The set was a revelation. The Parisian-born Wrembel studied Reinhardt's fleet precision and soulful swing the hard way — playing in actual Gypsy camps — and Wrembel played his long, racing breaks at the Bowery with passionate concentration. Woody Allen knew all this long before I did: Wrembel's "Big Brother," from a self-released 2006 record, Barbes-Brooklyn, is featured in the director's 2008 romp, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. That album wasn't at the merch table at the Bowery, so I bought two others instead, including a fantastic concert document, Live in Canada (also self-released), which includes Wrembel's generously extended versions of Reinhardt's "Nuages" and "Minor Swing." Something else I discovered that night: Wrembel lives in New York (he moved here after a spell at the Berklee College of Music in Boston), and the Django Experiment play around town almost nightly. I will be back for more.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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