Guitarist Stéphane Wrembel, a Django Reinhardt devotee, strives to make transcendental music

As far as Wikipedia is anxious, guitarist Stéphane Wrembel is greatest referred to as a composer and peformer of Gypsy Jazz. A New York Times author went as far as to name Wrembel “perhaps the most creative improviser in Gypsy jazz today.”

But in the event you put the label “Gypsy Jazz” to Wrembel, his response means that he’s been no less than a little misunderstood.

“I don’t like this name Gypsy Jazz. I never use it. And especially not to describe my music!” Wrembel says.

“My understanding is that Gypsy Jazz means a Django (Reinhardt) cover band. I see Django as a source, as a beginning, not as an end. So depending on the show, we stay closer to his songs, but we also very often play my compositions that have nothing to do with his compositions, although I’m using the same technique on the guitar. We are definitely not what one calls a Gypsy Jazz band.”

Ottawa listeners can have a probability to choose for themselves when Wrembel and his band play the RBC Bluesfest on Sunday. They’re touring in assist of The Django Experiment III, a 2018 launch that follows Wrembel’s earlier discs known as, naturally, The Django Experiment I and The Django Experiment II.

Below, Wrembel, a 44-year-old who’s from Fontainebleau, France — the place Reinhardt lived in his later years — however who now lives in New Jersey, discusses why Reinhardt is the supply of his music and why music is a “transcendental experience.”

Q: Tell me about your earliest pursuits in taking part in and listening to music.

A: My first musical reminiscence is seeing Hotel California on TV, and being blown away by the drums. Then it’s the approaching of The Wall by Pink Floyd. I used to be 5 and I’ll always remember it. My dad and mom had a nice sound system they usually have been organizing events to pay attention to all the brand new information popping out again then…very ’70s rock-oriented. The love for ’70s rock has by no means left me.

Then I used to be additionally taking part in classical piano, so my ears have been skilled to understand concord and melodies a sure means. At age 15 I began guitar to play all that music from my childhood, Pink Floyd, the police, LED Zeppelin….

Q: Why did the guitar finally win out as your instrument of selection?

A: Playing the guitar has at all times felt like a pure factor. It’s the sound, its function within the orchestra, the best way it feels, the best way the considering course of works, by geometrical shapes.

Q: How did you come to give attention to the music and magnificence of Django Reinhardt?

A: There isn’t any rational clarification for that. I simply lastly heard it reside performed by the gypsies and it clicked in my thoughts. Being from Fontainebleau I’ve at all times heard Django, however at age 18 being an aspiring musician I heard it from a completely different angle. It blew my thoughts. It was a transcendental expertise. Django is to the guitar what Bach is to the keyboard. A supply.

Q: Tell me about the way you’ve arrived at your individual private method to taking part in, past the affect of Django and others.

A: I accepted my nature, with the great issues and the weak ones. I’m not making an attempt to play music to impress, or to be in an mental problem. Accepting our personal nature is the toughest factor I believe. But as soon as you discover your centre then the entire thing turns into a transcendental expertise.

I additionally learn as a lot philosophical and esoteric materials, from Plato to the Bible, from Rene Guenon to Greek mythology. This all goes into the music. Music is a celebration of life, of magnificence, of concord, of dance, of aesthetic, of brotherhood, of affection.

Q: You’ve had your music featured in two Woody Allen movies. How did you got here to his consideration? What influence or penalties has the Woody Allen connection had in your profession?

A: I performed 9 gigs a week throughout New York for years, and that’s how I introduced the eye on my band there. It was a crucial factor to do. Play as a lot as potential with out calculating. I mentioned sure to each gig for years. That’s how he heard of me!

Now I do know the he loves my music and has it in his roster. So he first requested me for a music for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Big Brother), then for Midnight in Paris (Bistro Fada), then I used to be featured in one of many scenes of Magic within the Moonlight, however the scene was minimize in enhancing! I had a line, and I used to be taking part in a composition of mine.


I’m very lucky to be featured in his films, to have my music Bistro Fada being a part of the Grammy winner award for greatest soundtrack, to have been the guitarist and particular visitor to the academy awards 2012.

Q: You’ve lived within the U.S. for some years now. How have you ever discovered pursuing your profession in North America?

A: Great! People love music, they’re very enthusiastic, it’s actually superb.

Q: Do you miss Europe in any respect?

A: I’m from France so generally I miss France after all, my household, my associates, the atmosphere of my childhood. But it’s six hours away by aircraft so it’s OK, it’s nonetheless there.

Q: How a lot are you influenced by the present political turmoil within the U.S.?

A: I don’t learn the information, I don’t have any curiosity for politics, I don’t have judgements or opinions.

The Stéphane Wrembel Band Plays:
July 6 at FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières
July 7 at Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
July eight at 5 p.m. on the City Stage at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest

[email protected]

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