A few years ago, a friend of mine turned me on to “gypsy jazz,” or “jazz manouche” as the Parisians say. Since then I’d become entranced by the intricate harmonies, driving rhythms, and virtuosic guitar solos.
So when planning my recent trip to Paris, I put gypsy jazz at the top of my agenda. With the help of some web research–most notably, this 2010 article from The Guardian–I was able to track down two gypsy jazz performances while I was there in April 2012.
Bouquet Du Nord
This is by no means a smoky, dark jazz club. By day, and six nights per week, it’s a casual café/brasserie; Friday nights, they clear a few chairs out of the way and host a house jazz band that’s joined by occasional guest musicians.
As you can see in the video, the violin player had fantastic chops. The rest of the band was nothing to write home about, but the overall effect–the casual atmosphere, the, “oh, this is just what we do here in Paris” vibe about it–made it a truly magical experience.
La Chope des Puces (Espace Django Reinhardt)
Information on this place was a bit hard to come by online, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this place while wandering around the Marché aux Puces flea market on a Saturday afternoon. This guitar duo was absolutely on fire:
Sadly, I forgot to take any video, but just imagine this guy’s fingers racing up and down the frets…and the spirit of gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt in the air.