Paris Swing

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maugein96
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Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 8:29 pm

Not a lot of posts in this section, and I almost put this topic into the European Music sub-folder.

During the Paris accordion revival in the late 90s, led to a large degree by Richard Galliano and other "Italian" French accordionists, the older pre-WW2 gypsy swing tunes, or variations of them, were re-launched to the public in CD format. Lately the style, which still features the traditional "manouche" line up of accordion, double bass, and two gypsy style guitars (essentially one lead and one rhythm), has probably moved more towards jazz, whilst still retaining strong elements of the gypsy sound.

I listened to this style of music for a long time before I started to play the accordion, and it often creeps into French accordion CD compilations. The accordion parts tend to be fairly complicated, and not really suitable to be learned note for note from musical scores. You either have the feel for it, or you haven't, and I fall into the latter category, or do I? With regard to the accordion I don't think I could manage it, but I also play guitar, and the reason I put guitar into second place over the accordion was that I became frustrated trying to learn gypsy guitar solos by ear.Then came the Internet, YouTube, and all the other fancy stuff. Also, in the last few years affordable gypsy acoustic guitars have been made in China, and unlike some accordions made there, are eminently suitable for their purpose.

Why am I rambling on about myself as usual? The short version is that I recently discovered a fascinating English speaking website and forum dedicated to the gypsy swing music of Paris, and I am considering brushing up on my guitar skills, so that I'll be able to play some fairly basic "manouche" tunes, or more likely my basic versions of the tunes. I was disappointed to discover that most of the online instruction involves delving into jazz theory, but I suppose that's the way things are these days. It's all about people showing off their musical knowledge for about 70% of the time, followed by about 30% actual tuition. As I get older I am finding I'm not getting a "kick" out of playing all those old fashioned musette tunes, and need to find something to keep me interested. I have tried dabbling with various other styles, even ditching the accordion temporarily for Greek bouzouki, but I don't think that will happen again. I'll probably not begin the venture straight away, as I'll need to get playing gypsy stuff on the guitar (again) so that I can justify buying a "grande bouche" (gypsy guitar with large soundhole).

Anyway, I hope that by improving my guitar playing I'll be able to transpose what I learn onto the accordion, and thereby improve on that too. On previous occasions when I have strayed away from the accordion I have abandoned playing it altogether, but with this genre of music I'll hopefully be able to alternate between instruments, and keep the accordion going. We tend to live for most of the summer in a caravan, but that might be as close to Django Rheinhardt as I'll get!

Here is a clip of the sort of stuff that has inspired me. OK, I'll never be as good as what these guys are playing, but I'm determined to get the hang of those clever wheelie stools the guys use on stage! Well, I'll not have a stage, but the notion will still be there.

The accordionist is David Riviere.

http://www.djangobooks.com/forum/discus ... che#latest" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by maugein96 on Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by JIM D. » Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:05 pm

Nice Utube clip: :tup:
Great renditions of the late styles of "Hot Club Of France" with an accordion in the group.
Once in the while I get together with some of the talented older musicians that I have worked with for years (that are still alive) and cook up some old Ragtime, Dixieland and Django style tunes.
It's for our own entertainment, as the efforts will not be profitable, as for many years here in the US the audience's we now play for, have now only appreciation of grade "C" music and have no conception of the time required to perform music with a degree of talent.
Owner & Operator "THE FISARMONICA SHOP" Chicopee, MA USA

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:33 pm

Thanks Jim,

There still seem to be enough listeners over this side to keep a handful of mainly French pro bands going, and there has even been an accordion specially created for playing the style. You've probably heard of it before, and it's called a "Gadji", with the basses being specially configured for jazz playing. The technicalities are beyond my knowledge, but here is a link that explains what it is all about. You'll probably be able to work it out exactly, but it would probably take me quite a while. Apologies if you knew about it already.

http://www.marcel-loeffler.com/en/gadji.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Cavagnolo also make a special "manouche" model, with normal stradella bass, and interestingly the bassoon reeds are not in a tone chamber:-

http://www.cavagnolo-accordeon.com/succes-manouche.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Precisely why that is the case is unknown, especially when guys like Marcel Azzola go in for two banks of bassoon reeds, both in cassotto, but the accordion is constructed so that one set of reeds is louder than the other? I have heard these instruments being played, but my ears cannot identify anything unusual about them.

It's a pity that some of the old styles are all but disappearing, but maybe it is as you say, that a lot of time and effort has to be put in to acquire the talent needed to perform them. I used to love listening to Django Rheinhardt and Stephane Grappelli playing Hot Club stuff, and when an accordion featured in the line up, it added that extra bit of listening pleasure to it all, providing the recording equipment of the day was up to the task. Regrettably, there were only a handful of big name accordionists who chose to get involved, as there was a lot more money to be had playing the Grade "C" music, as you well know.

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by losthobos » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:51 am

https://youtu.be/ih-UPzkUumk
I like this guy a lot Raphael Fays...plays g
Manouche but also has a passion for flamenco..not sure who his accordionist is but they both manage to stick closer to melody than technicality which wins in my ears...
I also meander between guitar/accordion and tend to lend towards my tenor ukulele most as second choice...lovely tone..i take on holidays and work out my accordion tunes on it by ear as an exercise https://youtu.be/ngpnNvnKWNM
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Re: Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:28 am

Never heard of Raphael Fays before but I certainly like his style. You can hear that Flamenco influence in his playing, and the accordionist plays exactly the same way as I wish I could! I play Menilmontant in a similar way on accordion, but obviously not so well as the guy in the clip, and probably with not quite so many embellishments.

I've tried playing fingerstyle on various stringed instruments but it just doesn't work for me. Your tenor ukelele sounds very nice indeed, but again I'd struggle with that technique. One of the things that attracted me to the gypsy guitar was that it is (usually) played with a pick. I had an ancient Egmond (made in Netherlands) semi-acoustic when I was a kid and used to try and play like Django. However, no video lessons and everybody else around me playing rock meant I had no real scope to pick it up, and I ended up playing rock like the rest of them. I also discovered years later that the gypsies used light gauge strings, 10s and 11s, when I would have been using the telegraph wires that came with the Egmond, even when I replaced them. I can play lead guitar reasonably well, but will need to put a lot of effort into building up that manouche style. All I play at the moment is old surfy kind of stuff, mainly on Squier Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars, which is miles away from swing. I have tried jazz, but the theory brassed me off. Providing I can remember it I can usually play it, although remembering all the chord progressions can be problematic. That's why I never tried jazz on the accordion, as I have precisely the same issue. Show me something on the treble side and I'll probably get it down in a day or two. Bass side has always caused me problems, and has kept me playing simple stuff for longer than I wanted to. The Gadji accordion I mentioned would probably not be any use to me, as I'd still have bother remembering all the chords.

At the level I'm at it probably won't make a lot of difference to me whether I succeed or not, but I'm looking forward to having a go. Italian stuff tends to be too straight, and Brazilian is too "new" to me to start playing it at my age. I have a certain amount of feel for manouche music and that should help a bit. I think I'll concentrate on the older stuff that doesn't veer off the melody line too much, as that's what I prefer, same as you. I've seen me "improvising" so much on guitar that I end up forgetting what tune I started playing! Guys like Ludovic Beier on the accordion are brilliant technicians, and they have changed the gypsy music almost beyond recognition in recent years. You get the feeling that the titles are only there so they can get started, and that's another thing that put me off the heavier jazz scene.

Thanks for the links, and treating us to you playing your tenor ukelele. My wife asked me what I was listening to and I said it was a tenor ukelele. She told me I wasn't getting one even if it was only a fiver, as the house is full of instruments! Getting a grande bouche guitar through the door in a few months might be a major obstacle to my current fad. All my life I've dabbled with various instruments, then got fed up with them. Accordion and guitar have been the only two I've stuck with. Even then, I've seen me putting them away for months or years at a time, while I try my hand at something else.

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by debra » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:07 pm

I used to have a friend with a jazz accordion with LLMM setup (both LL in cassotto). The main reason why this setup actually turns out to be usable is that these accordions (CBA) have quite a large range of notes, so you can use LL one octave higher to have like an MM double cassotto and you can use the MM with low notes also to have like an LL without cassotto. The LM combination (L in cassotto, M not) works like the MH on other accordions (that have M in cassotto). On a PA this setup would be much less usable because of the limited range.
The special jazz bass setup does not really convince me. Players are often very used to the two-button chords that are needed with Stradella. With standard Stradella bass the instrument becomes more versatile, more suitable for other types of music. (Not everyone is only into jazz and not everyone can afford multiple accordions.)
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Re: Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 2:01 pm

I've also heard CBA accordions with LL, one in the tone chamber, and one outside, but I'm afraid I couldn't hear much difference there either. Years of listening to three voice musette has probably numbed my ears to some of the more subtle accordion tones.

The Gadji accordion is obviously a very specialised instrument, as are the two slightly different types of "manouche" guitars which feature in the same Paris Swing style. They are definitely not for universal playing, although I would have to say that I am used to that phenomenon, as 2 out of my 4 current accordions aren't very versatile either. They were made for French musette, and tend to sound out of place when I try and use them for anything else.

What I have discovered since joining the forum is that most members tend to want accordions which will cover all styles they want to play, and that makes a lot of sense. That's precisely the situation here in Scotland where most instruments on offer are "one box does all" 4 voice LMMM PAs, with the smaller instruments tending to be used by folk players. Free bass type instruments seemed to be practically unheard of when I started out, although there are definitely some here in the land of rain and tartan.

The problem facing those of us who do end up specialising is making that all important decision to purchase an instrument that will be suitable to play the type of music we want, regardless of whether it will be suitable for much else. Whether that is in fact necessary is perhaps open to debate in some cases, but I don't think many people would want to play Cajun on a Hohner Morino. In a similar vein I have two electric guitars which were pretty much dinosaur icons of the instrumental music of the 50s and 60s. However, recently one of them has been resurrected into modern music by kids young enough to be my grandchildren.

I don't think I would ever consider a Gadji, as I've had enough trouble trying to get the hang of normal stradella bass over the years. Aside from that they also have "specialist" prices, and if you ever wanted to sell one you could wait a very long time. Maybe just a bit too specialised at the price they have to charge for them.

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by debra » Sun Jan 22, 2017 2:33 pm

maugein96 wrote:I've also heard CBA accordions with LL, one in the tone chamber, and one outside, but I'm afraid I couldn't hear much difference there either. Years of listening to three voice musette has probably numbed my ears to some of the more subtle accordion tones.
You have to listen to the "middle" region. You won't hear much difference in the L register in the lowest octave, but the next octave the cassotto versus no cassotto should be very clear (otherwise the cassotto is no good). Another problem may be that the cassotto tends to be a bit (or a lot) less dramatic on the third row of buttons than on the first and second. (That is a result of the tone chamber not being deep enough and/or the first reed block too close to the "exit".)
maugein96 wrote: The Gadji accordion is obviously a very specialised instrument, ... if you ever wanted to sell one you could wait a very long time. Maybe just a bit too specialised at the price they have to charge for them.
That is exactly the reason why a specialised instrument is a gamble. I have discovered that people generally like more general-purpose instruments.
I even had no trouble selling convertor instruments that have tremolo, even though by default such instruments often come with no or very little tremolo.
I have found little use for an MM (one M in and one outside cassotto) without tremolo when you also have an MH register. And a non-cassotto MH also offers little over a cassotto MH. So in my opinion an LMMH instrument with LM in cassotto and MM with tremolo is a good general-purpose setup. The only thing I might want more is LMMMH to be able to have light and medium tremolo, and I did have that in the past but it does make an instrument more bulky (and it does not exist in CBA convertor instruments, only in PA).
As for LL, it often does not even sound as good as a single L, because it emphasizes higher harmonics. (Bayans have LL on the bass side and whether you have a Russian bayan or a Pigini Sirius for instance, you do get that very particular sound of LL with more harmonics as the base frequency may not be amplified unless the tuning is absolutely perfect but the higher harmonics do get through better.
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Re: Paris Swing

Post by dunlustin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:33 pm

Perhaps worth mentioning that the Jazz model is just one of the models on offer from Stephanie Simon whose brand (marque) is Gadji.
She has been in the business for 20+ years.
For those who might care (or might not) `Gadji`is a joke because it is Romany for `not gypsy - the word is Gorger in UK.
So it`s Gypsy jazz on an ungypsy jazz accordion.
I suppose nights can be long in central France!

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Never knew there were other models as well, dunlustin. I had heard of the name before, but Stephanie doesn't seem to market them very aggressively.

I lived for a time in Edinburgh, where they reckon some of the local slang words have gypsy origins. Gadji, or "Gadgie" in Edinburgh is still used to describe any male person of dubious character. The term is not used elsewhere in Scotland, and it is believed the gypsy slang came to Edinburgh along with a number of gypsies who eventually moved to the city from the Scottish Borders. The gypsy kids who attended our school, well away from Edinburgh in the west of Scotland, were rather unceremoniously referred to as "Tinks". Dundee's version was "Tinkies". Never heard the word "Gorger" before.

My wife's family has gypsy blood from the tribes who lived in the general area of Yetholm, right on the English border, and claimed to be of Egyptian origin. They suffered greatly in earlier times with hanging, drowning, and having their ears cut off after being nailed to a tree, all being classed as suitable punishments if they upset the local gentry. If they were lucky they were transported to the colonies as slaves. Things calmed down a bit after they began to settle in the area in "proper" houses, and my late father-in-law even rose to the dizzy heights of being Fire Chief in the Borders. In an earlier generation he may have been another kind of "chief" altogether! We regularly go and live in my mother-in-law's caravan during the better months, but I've never heard a guitar or accordion played there! Paris Swing is peculiar to the "manouche" from around the Paris area.

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by losthobos » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:59 pm

https://youtu.be/s1wyvK1lMDY?list=PLx2i ... F2MOKXQ64T
Jean Claude Laudat...Raphael Fays accordionist....
Just checked CD sleeve, also Florin Nicelescu on violin...Album Gypsy Jazz Hot...mostly hot club numbers, half with accordion, couple of monster flamencos to finish album off...
I've not had time to check this youtube vid yet but hope it's hot...
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Re: Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:04 pm

Thanks Terry,

They turned up late, running onto the stage, and the compere had to crack a few jokes while they were getting ready!

Very laid back renditions of Jo Privat's "Balajo" and "Sa Preferee", but could hardly hear the guitar over the accordion, which had a very nice tone.

Jo Privat used to play a diatonic and developed an incredibly accurate dance tempo in just about everything he played. Even when he jazzed the waltzes up that dance beat was in there. These guys were a bit on the slow side, but I think that was deliberate, and I enjoyed it very much.

According to what I'm now reading up on I only need to get 75 guitar arpeggios down by heart, and play each one for 20 seconds every day, before I turn into a Gitane smoking Manouche! I can probably do it, but I'll maybe run out of time. If I manage to get a few tunes worked out I think I'll take it from there, and meanwhile the "grande bouche" is on hold! I've always fancied one, but watching the guys playing them sort of frightens me to death. The gypsies say that the music is easy if you keep the theory to a minimum, which is right up my street, but I wish I had the memory I had when I was a boy! If I can at least transpose some of it to the accordion it will have been worth while.

Thanks again for the clip. Another name I'd never heard of, but one to look out for in the future.

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Re: Paris Swing

Post by maugein96 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:27 pm

dunlustin wrote:Perhaps worth mentioning that the Jazz model is just one of the models on offer from Stephanie Simon whose brand (marque) is Gadji.
She has been in the business for 20+ years.
Had a look at the Gadji website and their prices are very reasonable by French standards, at least for the smaller models. Interesting to note that Marcel Azzola plays a little 2 voice model without cassotto. It'll probably be a break from the big Cavagnolos he played for years, but is a clear indication that Gadji accordions are worth considering. The accordions have normal French 3x3 bass layout unless the jazz bass keyboard is specified.

What a pity that they are not better known.

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