Monday, July 05, 2010

Edgey Music

Here's the wonderful Hot Club of San Francisco:



Django Reinhardt and The Quintet of the Hot Club of France? Maybe you've gotten a look at the elderly Stephane Grappelli, heard the sweet violin counterpoint he provided his whole life through to whoever would have it, and gotten this sort of antimacassar impression of the original scene.

These were Gypsys. Romani. Wild men. They were considered profoundly unsavory and subversive. I'd be hard pressed to come up with a modern equivalent. All sorts of people would like to claim the mantle, and not just in music, either -- but there's something incredibly milquetoast about having skulls all over your black T-shirt and your skin alike while selling Stratocasters to suburbanite kids; or maybe torching a half-built condo complex to save the earth while getting away in your mom's minivan; or perhaps declaring that _________is Hitler loudly into the microphone at your function-room-class performance. Django always wore a suit and tie, BTW. He'd probably stab you if you tried to stiff him after a performance, though.

Django walked out of the hospital because his leg was burned so badly they wanted to amputate it. Hardcore. He returned to Paris, even when the Nazis overran it, gassing gypsies like him in their thousands. Fearless. Not "I married my stepdaughter but still get invited to all the best cocktail parties fearless." The real kind of fearless.

It's nice that people still keep the memory of the music alive like you see in the video. It's a wonderful amber they've produced, with a marvelous fly in it. Me? I'm always on the lookout for the new Romani. I need fellow-travelers.

10 comments:

Bapu said...

Build a vardo, and they will come.

misterarthur said...

Come to Detroit. We can go see the Hot Club of Detroit.

Anonymous said...

Pearl Django in Seattle

Dave

Jewel -The Testy Infidel said...

Alas, I have no Djang. Dang.

Andy said...

Jewel's a fool if she think she gots no Djang. And THAT's the dang.

Jewel -The Testy Infidel said...

Andy, I am indeed Djangless, but I have plenty of MJQ and Bru and Paul Desmond sans Tutu and
I gots a whizbang personality! Thangyouverymuch.

That, and boatloads of envy...you have been to Spain....and I have wished to go to Spain for a thousand lifetimes (that's how time drags when pregnancy gives way to babies who turn into toddlers - you only wonder where the time went when the toddler comes home a 20 year old and says she's pregnant.)

Jewel -The Testy Infidel said...

Oh wait...it's Mr. Arthur who's been to Spain. Sorry.

Jim - PRS said...

Djang me,
Djang me.
They oughta take a rope and hang me.

Thud said...

I'm afraid any contact with Romany today will be nearly so heroic, unless you count the struggle as they relieve you of your riches....I speak from experience.

Gringo said...

I heard Stefan Grappelli in concert when he was in his 80s. He put on quite a show.