Five instrumentalists stand on stage in Smothers Theatre on Oct. 23. They performed a set that consisted of music from Django Reinhardt. Photos courtesy of Ron Hall
“Shades of Django,” a musical tribute to the late guitarist Django Reinhardt, performed a two-hour set in Smothers Theatre on Oct. 23. The event showcased how instrumental music can stand out on its own.
Reinhardt was a French jazz musician in the 1930s, according to Brittanica. Lead guitarist Stephane Wrembel created the “Shades of Django” because Reinhardt’s works inspired Wrembel’s musical journey.
“Django brought the acoustic world of guitar to me,” Wrembel said. “I was drawn even deeper into guitar by Django.”
Wrembel opened the show in Smothers playing two of Reinhardt’s compositions as a solo on guitar “Improvisation 1” and “Improvisation 2.” The intro highlighted the power of the guitar melody without the use of any background instruments or vocals.
Wrembel then brought out three more members of the band – drummer Nick Anderson, backup guitarist Josh Kaye and double bassist Felix Kochendörfer. They joined him in performing Reinhardt’s “Montagne St. Geneviéve,” accordionist Tony Murena’s “Indifference” and “Valse de Wasso” by guitarist Jimmy Rosenberg.
Trio Dinicu performed a medley of Hungarian Roma folk songs with a prominent violin sound.
The former three joined Trio Dinicu back on stage to transition into the jazz portion. This is the first time in the show that all six instrumentalists played on stage together.
Wrembel also played two of his own compositions in the set with the band — “Big Brother” and “Bistro Fada.” He said he composed the songs for the movies “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008) and “Midnight in Paris” (2011).
Wrembel gave insight about his composing process — he said he believes composing music has to come naturally to him, and he doesn’t want to force ideas.
“What forces things is the rational mind,” Wrembel said. “Composing music has to stay in the irrational mind and in the subconscious.”
Wrembel said he sees composing music as having a double gesture.
“The first is to bring to the world a very unique way of perceiving music,” Wrembel said. “And also to compose melodies and chord progressions that sound good to me.”
Wrembel said the melody matters most when listening to a song.
“The melody is what you feel with an instrument,” Wrembel said. “Sometimes you hear the violin or the guitar play the melody, and you can extract different things from it.”
The live aspect of performing is very important — and Wrembel said he describes it as an empirical experience.
“Every time, it is completely unique,” Wrembel said. “You cannot reproduce exactly how you feel that night [and] how everyone feels.”
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