Gypsy Jazz

Gypsy jazz is another genre that goes by several names — 'gypsy swing', 'hot club' — so named after the popular Parisian jazz club (Hot Club de France) where the style was born — or simply 'manouche', after the gypsy clan of its co-creator, the guitarist Django Reinhardt. One of a number of gypsy guitarists working around Paris in the 1930s (including his brother Jospeh 'Nin-Nin' Reinhardt), Django was a great improviser, and he pushed the boundaries of what was playable in developing his unique style of 'hot' guitar playing.

In the mid 30s he teamed up with violinist Stéphane Grapelli to create arguably the first major European jazz group with their Quintette du Hot Club de France, based in Paris. The group had a unique instrumentation that excluded drums! Instead the characteristic rhythms that popularised the style were created by Reinhardt, Grapelli, two rhythm guitarists and double bass. The absence of drums created a more intimate sound that allowed their virtuosic soloing to be clearly audible.

Hot club jazz became popular in pockets of activity around the world, including America, Europe and The United Kingdom. Following Reinhardt's death in 1953 the style gradually became less popular before a resurgence in the 1970s saw musicians like the Belgian guitarist Fapy Lafertin and the French guitarists Boulou Ferré and Biréli Lagrène championing the style. In 1973 the Anglo-Canadian guitarist Diz Disley persuaded Grapelli to return to the 'hot club' line-up of violin accompanied by two rhythm guitars and double bass.  So, gypsy jazz has remained popular as its own niche sub-genre with a unique style with its own musical language and heritage.

Key Artists

Django Reinhardt

Stéphane Grapelli

Diz Disley

Fapy Lafertin

Boulou Ferré

Biréli Lagrène

If you want to commission your own music in this style, or would like more information or help, please contact us.