A gypsy touch to modern jazz

A gypsy touch to modern jazz

Bengaluru audience recently got to experience the spice and joy of a unique jazz concert

The Buchpatrovitch Trio concert in progress.

Jazz is and always has been about innovation. From the time of the ‘big band’ era, with its explosive feats and racing tempos, jazz has today emerged as a deeply affecting and popular genre. 

This was quite evident at a recent Buchpatrovitch Trio concert featuring Vincent Patrin, Elie Ossipovitch and Gabrielle Weisbuch in Bengaluru where the audience got to encounter a fresh new experience in the form of gypsy jazz. It is easy to brand these performers as ‘emerging’, but their unusual musical journey and performance history puts them well beyond mere emerging, proving thus that age and experience have little to do with talent. 

Patrin, the gypsy guitarist, says, “I started my career as a journalist in a local newspaper in France, but when the downsizing process was on, there was a shift in my focus and I eventually landed up in music.”

He underlines how one of the top-shelf jazz guitarists of the 1930s, Jean Reinhardt, who despite losing two fingers in a fire accident, did not stop experimenting with his talents.  Combining French popular music, swing, and Eastern European tunes, he invented what is today known as ‘gypsy jazz’. Patrin adds, “what inspires me about Jean was his strong willingness to achieve under pressure and pain.” Moreover, Patrin describes gypsy jazz as a brewed form of early jazz with a tone and quality that is raspy. Coming back to the concert, Elie’s musical virtuosity in his Viola de Gamba was the perfect compliment to the soulful tango dancer Gabrielle Weisbuch on the stage. Elie’s soaring musical expression, coupled with the whirlwind swings of Gabrielle, made for a magical performance.

An interaction with Elie brought to surface some amazing insights. “Since the world is encapsulated in political insecurity and social divide, music, especially concerts like these, go a long way in melting the dark clouds hovering over our heads. What is more significant about gypsy jazz is that it is a fusion of music genres, thus feeding harmony to a divided world.”  

Essence of life

Gabrielle started her dance journey in an unconventional way at 17. Trained in ballet, contemporary dance, couple dance (tango) and aerial dance over many years, she believes dance is an expression of humanity and the very essence of life.

“To me, dance protects oneself from lying and pretending as it cannot be insincere and demands simplicity and integrity. It is an emotion in action that has the power to reach a person’s deep senses and cause a change.”

Recalling her time with Patrin and Elie, Gabrielle says, “this project became a wellspring of ideas individually to the three of us and a matter of daily joy. In fact, it became a compatible window where we enjoyed appreciating each other’s choices.”

Gabrielle’s subtle performance brought out her kaleidoscopic personality through her vertiginous exchanges with the musicians. She says, “I tried not to adjust my moves too much, but at the same time, I was trying to keep my steps in sync with the social atmosphere.”

The unorthodox gypsy jazz techniques spiced with profound dance moves turned into a highly rewarding experience for the audience, which made them acknowledge art as a metaphor for healing differences. 

Sounds Of Music is your genre-bending occasional column on all that is groovy in global music.


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