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Gypsy jazz (also known as gypsy swing or hot club jazz) is a style of jazz music generally accepted to have been started by the gypsy guitarist Jean "Django" Reinhardt in and around Paris in the 1930s. Because its origins are in France and Django was from the Manouche Roma clan (although his frequent accompanists, and later solo performers/band leaders the Ferret brothers were not Manouches but Gitan Roma) it is often called by the French name, "jazz manouche", or alternatively, "manouche jazz", even in English language sources. The term is now commonly used for this style of music.
Django was foremost among a group of Romani guitarists working in and around Paris in the 1930s through the 1950s, a group which also included the brothers Baro, Sarane, and Matelo Ferret and Reinhardt's brother Joseph "Nin-Nin" Reinhardt.
Many of the musicians in this style originally worked in Paris in various popular musette ensembles in which the lead instrument was typically the accordion with banjo accompaniment, the latter played with a plectrum for volume. Elements of both instruments reappear in the subsequent "gypsy jazz" sound, with arpeggios and decorations typical of accordion players transferred to the guitar for effect, and an at times forceful right hand attack applied to the lead acoustic guitar to achieve maximum volume in the era of comparatively primitive amplification. Other elements of the ensemble sound include the use of all strings which was quite unusual for its day, the absence of brass lead instruments and drums being a novelty in the jazz context, as well as the use of the double bass which had only recently taken over from the sousaphone to play the bass lines; the absence of drums was compensated for by a new highly rhythmic style of guitar accompaniment subsequently called "la pompe" which supplied both rhythm and harmonic structure underpinning the soloists. Gypsy jazz can be performed on guitars alone (with or without double bass), however in the "classic" line-up, that of Reinhardt's most famous group, the Quintette du Hot Club de France, the solo work alternated between Reinhardt on guitar, and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. Later versions of the Quintette featured clarinet or saxophone as alternate lead instruments to the guitar, and these are sometimes also featured in contemporary gypsy jazz ensembles in place of the violin, although obviously departing from the original "all strings" concept.
Reinhardt and his accompanying guitarists initially utilized a range of models then available in France, however with the appearance of the Maccaferri guitar - correctly the Selmer-Maccaferri, and subsequently just Selmer - gravitated to this make for the majority of appearances and recordings, with the result that such guitars (and copies/derivations of the same) are today frequently marketed as "gypsy jazz" instruments and used almost exclusively by players of the style on account of their unique tone and responsiveness to the playing style. Such guitars were originally manufactured in two versions, the earliest with a large "D" shaped soundhole, and later models with a smaller "O" shaped soundhole, which are generally considered the most suited to lead work. Surviving original Selmers are rare and valuable, and highly appreciated by players of the style.

Source: Wikipedia


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