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

As far as Wikipedia is anxious, guitarist Stéphane Wrembel is finest 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 case 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 may have a likelihood 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 mother and father 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 educated to understand concord and melodies a sure method. 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 ultimately win out as your instrument of selection?

A: Playing the guitar has all the time felt like a pure factor. It’s the sound, its position within the orchestra, the way in which it feels, the way in which the pondering course of works, by geometrical shapes.

Q: How did you come to deal with the music and magnificence of Django Reinhardt?

A: There is not 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 all the time heard Django, however at age 18 being an aspiring musician I heard it from a totally 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 impression 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 essential factor to do. Play as a lot as potential with out calculating. I stated 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 tune 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 reduce 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 tune Bistro Fada being a part of the Grammy winner award for finest 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 pals, the atmosphere of my childhood. But it’s six hours away by airplane so it’s OK, it’s nonetheless there.

Q: How a lot are you impacted 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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