The story in the song

The story in the song

Gypsy jazz

The story in the song

Stephane Wrembel’s concerts embrace two elements — the audience find themselves on their feet and their minds packed with powerful dreams at the end of his shows. No one has figured out where the jazz virtuoso’s music begins and ends. His ballads don’t establish a methodical structure and yet are far from sounding haphazard. His rough verses glide alongside smooth refrains and dance like an effervescent ballet queen.

Jazz guitarist Stephane has taken the lack of barriers in any art form a bit too seriously. In every show, he aspires to recreate the 19th Century ‘Impressionist movement’ in his music, making an age-old era as relevant and identifiable. Packaged with illustrations of the emotion and the rationale, Stephane hits the nail on the head while presenting a story through his song. “I would like to tell the story of the song before playing it at any concert. It is like laying out the lyrics so that everyone can imagine a world where they want to be in. Actually, my music is not jazz anymore but a support for an impressionist experience – a support to help dream.”

 The French-born acoustic musician considers the audience in USA responsive to jazz solos, as compared to the French audience, who are more into classical music and very reserved. Currently in the City to pay a tribute to the evergreen composer Django Reinhardt, Stephane hopes to create this suspension of disbelief and communicate, paint pictures and ask questions through that usually go unanswered, through an image-provoking journey.

The skilled mastery in a composition like ‘Big Brother’ or a film score like ‘Bistro Fada’ for ‘Midnight in Paris’ proves why he is the leader of any ‘jazz pack’. “Playing live and recording for films are two mediums that are challenging in their own right. I have worked with Woody Allen, who wanted me to capture the score. I didn’t have much time and had to compose and record  in three hours. I try not to play shows when I compose for films as it breaks my concentration. However, I love both these experiences and I wouldn't put them in opposition but as complementary structures.”

Although influenced by popular songs, Stephane initially started jazz by dabbling into gypsy jazz for he found their music raw and pristine. He soon became one with the nomads and part of their culture to understand the finesse of gypsy jazz. Now, it’s a treat to note that he is also influenced by the language of percussion in Indian music. “Indian music is so specific and powerful. I don’t want to copy any part of it and place it out of context. It is meant to be practised in a certain way. However, the rhythm is very strong and has influenced me.” But he makes no markers in terms of music and doesn’t consider jazz as a

separate genre but an epic mounting for life and a frame of mind. And as the world shrinks further and music brings people closer, Stephane only hopes to promote the basic function of music through gypsy jazz – transmitting universal love. “Music is naturally the most abstract form of human language. No one really knows what it is and why humans need it so much. It is a support for religion, imagination, love, dreams and philosophy.”