Gypsy Summer 2003
|Taraf de Haidouks
On the 50th anniversary of the death of French
gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, world music promoter
Plankton undertake to honor a figure of mythic proportion
from the Jazz Age with a series of events looking at his musical
legacy and how it is being reinterpreted by the current generation
of gypsy musicians.
The series launched at the beginning of the year with the
showing of the film Swing, which offered a light look at one
of Europe's most persecuted minorities, focusing on
the Manouche gypsies of the Alsace area in France, and starred
one of the performers due in Tokyo next week, guitarist Tchavolo
Later events saw a visit by virtuoso French guitarist Romane,
who astounded a full house with his fleet fretwork, redolent
of Reinhardt's seminal blend of blues, jazz and gypsy
brio, in a concert at Aoyama Cay.
Having laid the groundwork, Plankton now offer a week of concerts
that bring together Schmitt and fellow Alsace group Note Manouche
with a unit that has proved itself in previous Japan appearances,
Romania's gypsy swing orchestra the Taraf de Haidouks.
Interest in these concerts is running high, and as of this
writing advance tickets were sold out for some of the shows.
The concerts launch on Sunday in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture,
with an appearance by the Taraf de Haidouks, the first of
two solo concerts by the group. Based in the tiny Romanian
village of Clejani, southwest of Bucharest, the Haidouks have
become unlikely darlings of the world music scene since being
"discovered" by two Belgian music fans during
a 1990 trip to Romania.
The pair brought the 12-member group to the attention of world
music label Crammed Discs, and after performing at the WOMAD
festival in 1991 and debuting with Musique Des Tsiganes De
Roumanie, the Haidouks have wowed the world music scene with
their manic, "lautari" Romanian gypsy style,
becoming a media phenomenon in the process. The group-ranging
in age from 20 to 87-capped off an appearance in a
1998 documentary film with a guest turn in the 2000 Hollywood
vehicle, The Man Who Cried, starring Johnny Depp and Christina
The series continues on Friday with a "Gypsy Summer
Party" at Shibuya's Club Asia. Advance tickets
for the event, which features the Haidouks with Tchavalo Schmitt
in a freestyle show, were sold out at this writing but some
may be available at the door.
The series reaches its climax with a grand finale concert
on Saturday at Shibuya Kokaido that will bring together all
the participants in the program: Tchavolo Schmitt, Note Manouche
and the Taraf de Haidouks.
Although sparsely recorded, Schmitt has recently been in the
limelight following the success of a Romane-produced album,
Voila!. Schmitt has the chops requisite to the
style, but he can also play with an understated swing that
offers a respite from the breakneck pace of gypsy jazz.
Note Manouche, meanwhile, add to the omnipresent guitar with
the accordion flair of Marcel Loeffler, who pitches his skills
against the guitarist Mandino Reinhardt (no relative to Django,
apparently, just a common gypsy name) in a quartet setting.
With this series of concerts, the wanderings of a culturally
resurgent people-sometimes called Romany for their
language and thought to have originally migrated to Europe
from India-have taken them farther than perhaps even
they could have imagined.
Taraf de Haidouks play Mito Geijutsukan
on August 24 and Club Quattro on August 26. Gypsy Summer Party
takes place at Club Asia on August 29. Tchavolo Schmitt, Taraf
de Haidouks and Note Manouche play Shibuya Kokaido on August
30. See listings for details.
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