Happy Birthday Bireli Lagrene

September 4, 1966

 

A celebration of the remarkable guitarist

Guitarist Bireli Lagrene was born September 4, 1966 in Soufflenheim, France.

Born to a gypsy family that included a father who played violin and guitar and a grandfather who was a guitarist, Lagrene began playing the guitar when he was four.

By the time he was eight, he already sounded like Django Reinhardt and at 13 when he made his recording debut in 1980, he was considered a phenomenon and a major force in the emerging Gypsy Jazz movement.

After a few more years of emulating Django, Lagrene began developing his own voice, exploring fusion on the electric guitar, recording with Jaco Pastorius, performing in a guitar trio with Al DiMeola and Larry Coryell, and playing with organist Joey DeFrancesco.

By the time he reached his thirties, Lagrene was balancing his original material with tributes to Django Reinhardt and displaying his own voice whether playing swing, fusion or post bop jazz.

Here is Bireli Lagrene performing in a trio with rhythm guitarist Denis Chang and bassist Paul Van Dyk, stretching out on “Django’s Tiger” which is based on “Tiger Rag.”

-Scott Yanow

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