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email : pauldcmansell@gmail.com

Django Reinhardt on a ukulele (using a looper pedal)

April 3, 2018

Most of my students learn classical ukulele with me, as this is the area of music that I am most well versed in.  Occasionally though I will get asked to dip my toe into other genres on the ukulele, which is often fun.  A student recently asked me to help him out with a Jazz piece he was trying to learn by the incredible talent that was Django Reinhardt.  More specifially it was in the style of Gypsy Jazz - which is very fast usually and uses choppy, quick changing chords, mainly 7ths and diminished ones.

 

My initial reaction was - wow - that music will suit the ukulele so well !  I have always thought that Jazz and the ukulele go hand in hand - but  gyspy jazz - I had never really considered.  The choppy, staccato, syncopated rhythms of Django's rhythm playing suit the ukulele perfectly.  Diminished chords and 7th chords always sound so crisp on a ukulele.

 

So, I didn't take too much persuading to try out a bit of Gypsy Jazz on the ukulele.  I have done a few of Django's pieces now  and thought I would upload a quick video of 'Douce Ambience'.  As Django was usually part of a quintet, or at least a duo, I thought I would use my Nux Looper pedal so that I could record rhythm and lead parts at the same time.  The attached video shows the results.  I must it was great fun to do.  I will probably do it again at some stage with more improvising on it.  The ukulele is very effective with short sharp chords and its fairly easy to get the percussive sound at the same time....easier that on a guitar I would say.  Also, as Django only had 3 fingers, the way he played the guitar was in fact very suited to the ukulele and the fact that it only has 4 strings.

 

I hope you enjoy the video, I am pretty sure there will be more Django to follow.......

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