The Rough Guide to Gypsy Swing

Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Gypsy Swing (World Music Network RGNET 1138 CD, 2004)

The Rough Guide to Gypsy Swing is so crammed with such good stuff as to cause the listener to sweep invisible crumbs of a baguette off the table or search in vain for telltale circles of a café au lait or a glass of wine. The compilation is the work of series producer Phil Stanton and compiled by Guillaume Veillet for World Music Network. By traveling over to, listeners can explore other rough guides that include Ethiopia, the Mambo, Asian Beat Box and African Rap, among many others.

This musical romp begins with the Romane Acoustic Quartet’s version of “Symphonie” and just gets better and better. “Fleur De Lavande” is covered by the Fapy Lafertin Quintet and Tim Kliphouse. Patrick Saussois and Alma Sinti tear through “Rhythmes Gitans,” with Jean-Claude Laudat on accordion. Moreno heads up the Moreno Trio on “Du Dja Yal.” The rough, mournful vocals in Rom in this piece are truly soulful. Bireli Lagrene’s guitar in his version of “Black Eyes” is noteworthy, not only for its virtuosity but also for the fact that it was recorded when Lagrene was only 14. The compilation also includes Swing Gadjé’s “Kriss Romani” with its passionate vocals relying heavily on an Eastern European and Oriental influences. And, let’s not forget Jo Privat and Matelot Ferret, whose version of “Java Manouche” is a must.

No gypsy swing compilation would be complete without the master Django Reinhardt. “Gallito,” “I’se A Muggin,'” “Improvisation 47” and “Echoes of France” all appear on the CD. Even my favorite, “Minor Swing” with the Quintette Du Hot Club De France, featuring Stéphane Grappelli on violin, Louis Vola on bass and Roger Chaput and Joseph Reinhardt on rhythmic guitar, is included.

The Rough Guide to Gypsy Swing is a first class compilation for Reinhardt and gypsy swing fans, as well as for the timid new listener looking to get his feet wet in the rich, jazzy sounds of the Manouche sound. With classic tracks and current innovators building on the foundations laid down by the masters, the CD is a true delight.

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.