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The Intersection of Science, Art, Music & Humanities

Celebrating Gypsy Jazz

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A note from my  friend and fellow founding board member of the Ocular Nutrition Society, Carol Boerner, MD, about her recent week in Paris celebrating food, drink, and music with her goddaughter, reminded me how much I love Paris, Gypsy jazz and the early “Hot Club” protest music started by gypsy guitarist “Django” Reinhardt outside Paris in the 1930s.

It’s reported that Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli jammed together on an occasional informal basis a number of times before Grappelli invited Django and his brother Joseph to join him and Louis Volat (the famous jazz swing band leader at the fashionable Hotel Claridge in Paris) during the summer of 1934, thus the Quintette du Hot Club de France was born.

One of the best things about Paris and France, then and now, is the social diversity experienced when walking through the streets, the markets, and the metro, because it's always been a crossroad of migration, particularly for the gypsy community that created this rich musical legacy. 

Reinhardt was the first solo Gypsy jazz guitarist to gain fame and he inspired both famous American guitarists, Les Paul and Chet Atkins.

Gypsy jazz has survived because most young guitarists learn to play Django tunes first, before dropping them for country, blues, funk, hip hop, or rock and roll, with many returning to some Gypsy jazz tunes as they become older.

According to NPR, from the ongoing Gypsy settlements inside and outside Paris, to the newer clubs of London, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, and even here in Colorado Springs, it's still the ultimate outsider music with a cultural heritage of its own, which continues to evolve dramatically, particularly with Hot Club bands worldwide. 

Gypsy jazz rap protest cover tunes are now becoming wildly popular with many young people, and other people who appreciate the go together flow and rhythm of rap poetry and Gypsy jazz. 

The video above features the famous rapper, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” with an awesome Gypsy jazz cover by Robyn Adele Anderson. We hope you enjoy it and the evolving history of Gypsy jazz as much as we do. 

Have a lovely day from the Biosyntrx Intersection of Science, Art, Music and Humanities. .

Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff