I’ve been a professional musician for longer than I care to say, playing gigs, sessions, doing pit work, composing, recording, teaching and even doing a bit of journalism. A few years ago I had an epiphany. Well, Django Reinhardt and this music have been somewhat on my metaphorical radar ever since my youth, to which my purchasing of a Django record at the age of about sixteen will attest. But, a proper discovery of jazz manouche guitar had to wait until rather later.
My epiphany? I had realised that here was the music that I really loved, I had found it! Effervescent energy, bounce – le pompe, drama, poingnancy, exuberance; all there in abundance, without any of the intellectual pretensions of modern jazz.
It is difficult to think of another musical genre that is so deeply under the influence of one figure, as jazz manouche is under Django Reinhardt, but a trip to the campsite at Samoreau during the Samois-sur-Seine festival, or even a browse on youtube, provides a convincing demonstration that this genre is very much alive and growing, and not simply a musical museum piece. I think that Django would have approved!