Django Reinhardt was my first love and he was the reason for me to pick up the guitar. My father had some Django records, so starting with listening to Django was only natural. But I must say that through the years Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery have been as much an influence as Django Reinhardt…
After I graduated as a jazz guitarist at the Royal Conservatory of the Netherlands, years of playing with gypsy masters like Fapy Lafertin and Jimmy Rosenberg were to follow but also listening to more modern guitar players like Birèli Lagrene and Boulou Ferré had a serious impact.
Kenny Werner once said: “Innovation is the Tradition”. And maybe this is indeed the most important lesson I learned from these masters. It has encouraged me to find my own voice and not to be afraid of incorporating my other influences in my version of ‘jazz manouche’. After all Django listened to Charlie Christian and Charlie Christian listened to Django!
The roles in this quartet are clearly defined. One could say that the solid rhythm guitarist Jan Brouwer and steady bassist Jet Stevens represent the tradition: they know how to hold a groove. Karin van Kooten’s playing is refreshing: she has her own voice. So often in this field of music, violin players tend to copy a bunch of Stephane Grappelli licks and then think they are set to go. Not so with Karin, she respects the tradition but dares to incorporate outside influences from classical to modern jazz music.
We also combined tradition and innovation for the actual recording session. The recordings were made in Holland’s oldest radio studio for live music (where Django Reinhardt played a radio show in 1937) with only one microphone but using the latest high resolution audio technology. It all feels so well suited for this music, it’s back to basics, but what a sound: nothing basic about that! Because of the one-microphone limitations AND the live concert setting of this recording, we were forced to really play: there was nowhere to hide, nothing to fix in the mix: This is what they call ‘live music’!