Jazz with a gypsy touch!

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As a genre, jazz encompasses several distinct styles – each rooted in specific contexts and with their own unique histories. While certain schools of Jazz enjoy immense popularity around the world, others are appreciated only in small pockets. Gypsy Jazz happens to be one such style which has largely remained unnoticed in India despite an ardent fan-following in Europe. Based in Goa, The Banjara Quartet has made it their life’s mission to introduce as many music aficionados to this unique soundscape as possible. Thanks to a series of performances piloted by Alliance Française de Panjim-Goa, this unique group performed for packed audiences in Chandigarh (March 25), Pune (March 27), Calcutta (March 29), Bangalore (April 1), and Goa (April 4).

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Gypsy jazz traces its origins to the music of the Sinti Gypsies from France, Netherlands, and Belgium and is frequently called jazz manouche, hot club music, or gypsy swing. The gypsies used to be looked down upon and their music was largely ignored until a new generation of guitarists began playing contemporary tunes in their style. Despite this initial curiosity, however, the style took a long time to develop and its popularity is often traced to the likes of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

The Banjara Quarter on stage

The Banjara Quarter on stage

Much like the history of Gypsy Jazz music, The Banjara Quartet is truly international with members from different parts of the world. It was the brainchild of Buland and his Austrian friend Robert Kres and was founded around four years ago. Today, The Banjara Quartet consists of four core group members – Rachel Koyama (Vocals), Buland (Guitar), Colin (U-bass), and Maxie (Guitar) – each of whom brings their own unique influences. The group frequently collaborates with other musicians for their shows. The bandmates claim that Goa is the perfect place for such collaborations as there are often itinerant musicians passing through!

A clip of their song Je t’attendrai can be found on the link below :

Talking about the particularities of Gyspy Jazz, The Banjara Quartet claims that it is the guitars which make difference! Django himself uses a guitar that was developed by Maccaferri and there are only around 30 to 40 original pieces left around the world. There is no amplification for this kind of guitar and it has to be played very loudly making each performance a truly communal experience. The mechanism of the instrument is different as well – there are no fixed bridges, the playing style is different, and even the strings are softer. Buland admits that this is a very daunting style and it took him a bit of convincing to take up the genre. However, the outpouring of love from audiences is a clear testament to the fact that the decision has turned out to be a rewarding one!

Siddharth Bhatt

Rédaction, AF Magazine Inde-Népal

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Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...