Where are you?

I am sure you are wondering where I am, or at least why I haven’t been posting much lately.  I have had my hands quite full with a few projects that I hope to post results for very soon.  Aside from trying to close out “The Island and the Plough” and shop it around to a few potential distributors I have been working on the next book as well as some super cool commission projects.  I will be doing the album art for Ultraswing, a UK gypsy jazz band.   They decided they wanted a little change of pace from their prior albums and wanted a full black and white illustration spread.  Once they are ready to release on their website I will begin posting some images soon.  All I have to say right now is that this was a really great project, creating some awesome little characters and vignettes and had a lot of fun.  Can’t wait to show it off.

Gypsy Jazz

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I have long been inspired by the “Gypsy Jazz” musicians of the twenties and thirties, specifically Jean “Django” Reinhardt.  One might say he invented the Gypsy Jazz style (sometimes called “Hot Jazz” stemming from his home venue, “The Hot Club” in France) and it could very well be all because of his handicap, which I think is quite incredible.  As a young man, he was in a fire which literally seared the last two fingers of his left hand together, fingers that are obviously very important to a guitarist.  Being greatly inspired by Spanish Folk, Gypsy music from eastern Europe, and American Jazz which was in full swing at the time seemed to have helped lead way to his two finger quick style; it is unmistakable and often replicated.  The fact that he worked with his handicap rather than letting it overcome him, much like Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, is simply astounding.  If you have yet to hear any of his music, you simply must.  Below I have included some of his songs as well as other artists like him including the new wave of more eclectic gypsy jazz revivalists such as Caravan Palace and even DeVotchKa.

 

Django Reinhardt: “Belleville”:

Django Reinhardt: “Minor Swing”:

Opa Tsupa: “Les Deux Guitares”

And something a little more contemporary:

Caravan Palace: “Jolie Coquine”

Caravan Palace: “Suzy”