This is­sue John Wheatcroft ex­am­ines the ex­tra­or­di­nary style of the Fly­ing Dutch­man of gypsy jazz, the in­cred­i­ble Stoch­elo Rosen­berg.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

John Wheatcroft on the stag­ger­ing tech­nique of Dutch gypsy jazzer Stoch­elo Rosen­berg.

Stoch­elo Rosen­berg is rightly con­sid­ered to be gypsy jazz roy­alty. For nearly 30 years the Rosen­berg Trio, in­clud­ing cousins Nou’che and Non­nie, have been at the fore­front of this en­gag­ing and in­fec­tious genre. If any gui­tar player dis­proves the old adage that it’s im­pos­si­ble to be both a tech­ni­cal vir­tu­oso and an ex­pres­sive feel-based player then it’s Stoch­elo, who man­ages to bal­ance in­cred­i­ble speed, ar­tic­u­la­tion and ac­cu­racy with a ro­man­tic and emo­tional sense of touch that can be both in­tense and ex­hil­a­rat­ing, and touch­ingly del­i­cate and sen­si­tive.

Even within his own fam­ily, brother Mozes, cousins Jimmy and Nomy and count­less oth­ers have all taken much of their sound, tech­nique and vo­cab­u­lary from Stoch­elo’s bench­mark. His im­pact out­side the gypsy com­mu­nity is just as im­pres­sive and sig­nif­i­cant. As his friend and fel­low vir­tu­oso gypsy gui­tarist Biréli La­grène plainly states, “Stoch­elo Rosen­berg is the gui­tar player that rep­re­sents the most, the mu­sic of Django Rein­hardt”.

Our les­son here con­sists of eight mu­si­cal ex­am­ples, each typ­i­cal of the kind of thing Stoch­elo might play within im­pro­vised so­los against com­mon jazz chord pro­gres­sions. You may no­tice that in keep­ing with this style, the chords are rel­a­tively straight­for­ward and Rosen­berg fre­quently stays faith­ful and close to the fun­da­men­tal notes within th­ese chords. The so­phis­ti­ca­tion here is often in the de­liv­ery and the fre­quent use of em­bel­lish­ments and ex­pres­sive de­vices such as bend­ing and vi­brato that are, like Django, ar­guably closer to vi­o­lin tech­nique than con­ven­tional jazz gui­tar.

As Stoch­elo’s style is pre­dom­i­nantly acous­tic, the best thing you can do to get close to his tone and max­imise your vol­ume and pro­jec­tion is to sort your pick­ing out. Most mod­ern gypsy play­ers play with a re­laxed ‘bro­ken’ wrist pos­ture and in­tro­duce each new string with a down­stroke. The real trick here is to travel through each string, so a note on the sec­ond string ends with the pick rest­ing on the first, rather like a clas­si­cal gui­tarist’s rest stroke. Use grav­ity and the weight of the hand to do this, rather than brute force, as this will cre­ate ten­sion in the wrist, ac­tu­ally slow you down and pro­duce a sound that is tight and forced rather than loose and flu­ent. I’ve had the good for­tune to wit­ness Sti­och­elo on many oc­ca­sions play­ing com­pletely acous­ti­cally and his tone is al­ways supremely clear, fluid, smooth and ex­pres­sive. As al­ways, en­joy.

NEXT MONTH John gets to the heart of the won­der­ful blues-jazz player Robben Ford

Stoch­elo Rosen­berg is the gui­tar player that rep­re­sents the most, the mu­sic of Django Rein­hard t Biréli La­grène

Stoch­elo Rosen­berg with his oval hole Mac­ca­ferri style

Al­most ex­clu­sively play­ing an oval-hole Mac­ca­fer­ristyle acous­tic, Stoch­elo has played in­stru­ments from a va­ri­ety of mak­ers such as Favino, Eimers and even a Selmer with the se­rial num­ber 504, just one away from Django’s. Re­cently he’s been play­ing a gui­tar from French luthier Jean Ba­rault . Stoch­elo’s style is all about mak­ing an acous­tic gui­tar work so stay away from amps at first and work on mak­ing the in­stru­ment project, com­pletely au na­turel.

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