Fricke's Picks: A Gypsy Jazz Experience

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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.