Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by gainiac, Oct 23, 2008.
Oh My Goodness!
Bireli Lagrene is the best out there. Even John McLaughlin ponders him as the best guitarist alive. He also plays bass and violin like a beast.
I've always thought of him as a descendant of Django Reinhardt. The style (and the type of guitar!) is the same. But it's arguable that - given his 4 good fingers against Django's 2! - he's taken that style a lot further, opened it out, and moreover developed his own vision.
Really amazing stuff anyway. I like how unorthodox and personal it is.
Well, guitarist Babik Reinhardt said that Biréli was the legitimate heir of his father's, Django, tradition and style. What else can be said after he won the Gypsy music festival of Strasbourg at the age of 12, played Montreux Jazz Festival at the age of 13, and then back Jaco Pastorius at 18 y.o.
Biréli also plays electric in the Benson style although a bit more note cluttered, but adding some Hancock voicings, counterpoint lines and volume swells à la Frisell, and guitar antics. For fast electric guitar licks and runs I prefer GB's original style, which plays a bit more with space, silence and accents. Of course, I don't come close to them in musicality and technique by any means. Just my listening preference.
That's awesome playing. He's such a great player. What grabs me about those gypsy style players is there's so much attack and control with the right hand. Lots of downstrokes too for that power. The right hand is like a hammer! A year or so ago I changed to play that way my speed and control increased a ton. I don't do a ton of jazz, but it works for rock and blues too. It just gives so much authority and tone to what you play.
This is my favorite Bireli vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF3tDW0e6-0 (I wish this was in sync better, there used to be one that was deadon)
Watch this. The other guys are obviously really good but Bireli even out plays his other vids on this one.
Another good thing about Biréli is that he seems to be a GAS free guitarist. If he feels he's not using a guitar enough he sells it. At the moment he only has a bunch of guitars:
-Gibson L-5 Wes Montgomery,
-Gibson Super V
-Fender Jazz Bass
-Fender Jazz Bass fretless
-Stefan Hahl Gitano (Selmer-Maccaferri replica)
Lately he's been also playing a red Stefan Hahl Gitano Super de Luxe D acoustic and a "Biréli Lagrène" signature modell electric archtop, but those seem to be endorsement guitars. I would love to have such a detachment to guitars.
How many guitarists with a 30 year long career have just a seven guitar collection?
I HATE the term best...but Bireli is one of my top 3 guys in terms of "dang it don't get better than that".
I have a 42 year long career, and currently have 6 guitars:
64 Epiphone Casino (bought 1985)
73 Tele custom (bought (1981)
Guild F30 steel-string acoustic (1974)
Aria CE30 nylon-string electro-acoustic (1990-ish)
73 Fender Precision bass (borrowed 20 years ago, not returned yet )
Peerless classic guitar (bought 1969, very cheap, hanging on wall currently)
I have owned a few other guitars: Vox Soundcaster (bought 1972, left on bus 1981); Hofner Verithin (bought 1969, sold 1973) - both second-hand; and a couple of nameless acoustics that were my first ever guitars (given away many years ago, good riddance).
Of course, my "career" is hardly of the stature of Lagrene's! If I earned more money, no doubt I would treat myself to one or two more.
I would love a Strat, and a jazz guitar like an L5. And a Martin. And a top quality classic guitar. And a dobro steel. But all except the Strat (copies are fine) are well out of my range, and hard to justify in terms of need. (I rewired my Tele to give more Strat-like sounds, but even a cheap Strat still sounds better to me. Less versatile, mind.)
I have students - beginners - who have more expensive guitars than I can afford...
And my partner already thinks I have too many guitars... (And she's a musician herself, dammit!)
You might think I've settled on those models as personal ideals after years of experimentation - far from it! Apart from the Casino, which is a gem, the others all do the job merely well enough. The Tele (a beautifully made but poorly designed instrument) was a stop-gap after losing the Vox - I needed an electric, any electric. I'm still searching (tho not very hard) for the perfect acoustic.
(Hehe, sorry for the moan...)
I've been playing about 34 years and only have an Ovation I bought new in 1975, a LP I bought in 1979, and a Kramer Pacer I bought in 1983.
I did finally breakdown and buy an Artcore jazz box but that was a couple of months ago...again after 30 some years of playing.
That's it four guitars and three of the four are over 25 years old!
I'm just lucky I found what I liked early and that they lasted this long.
Sheesh, now I feel like a profligate spendthrift...
Congratulations on you restraint (or your good fortune), mike!
Thanks. It's completely good fortune. And very fortunate they've lasted through everything I've put them through. I have three #1's!
The comparison with Benson is interesting. Like Benson, Biréli belongs in a super elite of super gifted musicians. But like Benson due to their huge success, reputation and dazzling ability which get them invited all over the world, I'm not sure Biréli has always played the best music that he's capable of. This was my feeling recently when he came to play at a small festival near where I live. Maybe the festival and the crowd were too small to make it interesting for him; I thought it was nice of him to have come anyway, if only for the public, because he obviously didn't "have" to. But he seemed a bit absent and it wasn't a memorable concert. I didn't recognize the archtop he played on most of the time, it may well have been the signature model mentioned above.
Coming to the Library Of Congress with Sylvain Luc in a few months. Can't wait!
Bireli is definitely an elite player. On a technical level he has few peers. For me though, he lacks a fundamental original voice. He is composed of about 80% Benson, and the rest is spread between Django, Gambale and maybe some others.
I noticed w/ interest that u mention Lagrene's "bored w/ it all" look onstage. I have noticed this many times with him. I suspect he really is tired of playing the django thing, and I suspect he probably thinks he is above most of his collaborators (tha's pure speculation, of course).
I loved seeing that meeting of Luc and Lagrene. Luc tore Bireli a new one, and I can only imagine the shock that must have been to Bireli. Luc leaves him behind when it comes to originality, unpredictability and artistic vision....imo
Yes he definitely harbors that "bored with it all" look... on the other hand, something I admire is that he seems like a nice guy and retains a kind of simplicity and authenticity (the audience at his concerts is typically more diverse than a typical jazz audience) - so I don't know what to make of him. I do think he was a bit bored that night and as a consequence, his set sounded that way. I was with a buddy who doesn't listen to a lot of jazz and he was impressed for 10 minutes at the virtuosity but mostly bored by the music. Didier Lockwood (a violonist) came on stage next. I don't like jazz violin much, but Lockwood did not hold back, he's a powerful player and his band was more together. His guitar player was no Bireli but still first-rate and did a clearly better job that night musically speaking. Likewise I find comparisons of Bireli to Django a bit out of place... I've rarely heard Bireli match Django's originality and poetic grace, though the man is eminently capable so maybe that will change...
Best is a bold word, still dig Birelli to the max.
One of the most impressive guitarists I've ever heard
is Gerardo Nunez
I know, different style, but still absolutely killer
I just like this piece, hunt and you'll find the technical thing that
will make you go " oh my god".
I have seen a DVD of Sylvain and Bireli that was sick. Just two guys playing tunes. Bireli had the Benson thing down cold.
wow. amazing. leave it to guitar geeks to split hairs over an "original voice" or some other silly little what-have-you.
i think this guy is incredible. ive never heard anyone play like that before.
I've seen the Vienne Jazz fest one from some years back.
Sylvain is light hearted in his attempts to get Bireli to interact and
it seems to work well. He gets some grins and playfulness out of
Bireli. They were both smoking hot!
My favorite thing about Bireli is the no holds barred technique. He
gets sloppy at times and neither he nor the audience care because
the slop only happens when he's pushing the technique envelope.
You know you've just heard something no one has ever done and
so what if there was a clam. He's an amazingly inventive and creative