French-born guitarist Stephane Wrembel, who specializes in the Django Reinhardt style of guitar playing called manouche, is performing in Greensboro at the Highland Center For the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9. If you are a fan of jazz or guitar, or simply want to hear music with a decidedly European and 1930s to 1940s vibe, this is a concert for you. Wrembel may not be a well-known performer, but his playing, recordings and reputation point to an exceptionally gifted and exciting entertainer. Add a band that has nailed the Gypsy jazz performance style and you have an evening’s entertainment that should be special. Wrembel was born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, the home of Impressionism and Django Reinhardt. He now lives in New Jersey. He cut his musical teeth on classical piano but in his mid-teens he discovered that he had an affinity for guitar and remains a Pink Floyd fan. At age 17, Wrembel decided to become a professional musician, dedicating himself to practicing 18 hours a day. In a magazine interview, he said, “After I got my high school diploma I decided that was what I was going to do. I had a classical background, a passion for rock music, and then I found out about Django. I fell in love with the very strong impressionist feel in his music.” To further his knowledge of music overall, and to gain experience, Wrembel immersed himself in the Gypsy culture by living for a time among the Gypsies at campsites in the French countryside. “When I first started going to the camps I learned that music is not only the notes,” he said. “There is an atmosphere to it. By going there I started learning the atmosphere of what it really means to play this guitar style. In the camps you play all day long, nonstop. You don’t learn technical things. The culture doesn’t use names for things; they just practice melody. By playing and playing and playing you become entranced. The music just comes by itself.” The Gypsy camps are where Reinhardt, himself a Roma or Gypsy, developed the style of music that would eventually make him famous during the 1930s through the 1950s. Gypsy jazz (also known as Gypsy swing or hot club jazz) is a style generally accepted to have been started by Reinhardt in and around Paris in the 1930s. Because its origins are in France and Reinhardt was from the Manouche Roma clan, it is often called by the French name, “jazz manouche,” or alternatively, “manouche jazz.” Gypsy jazz has its own set of frequently played standards, which are distinct from those of mainstream jazz. Original compositions by Reinhardt, such as “Nuages” and “Swing 42” are standards performed by Wrembel and his band. Wrembel is touring in support of “The Django Experiment III,” which was released Jan. 23, the date marking the 108th anniversary of the birth of Reinhardt. The album is the follow up to Wrembel's highly acclaimed albums, “The Django Experiment I and II,” which were released in March 2017 in conjunction with the Wrembel-produced “Django a Gogo.” “The Django Experiment III,” in addition to three songs composed by Reinhardt, includes nine songs written by Joseph Reinhardt, Titi Winterstein, Georges Ulmer, Tony Murena and two traditional songs.  The New York Times said of the album, “Perhaps the most creative improviser in Gypsy jazz today, Mr. Wrembel plays the guitar with a rich and colorful lyricism.” Wrembel's band includes longtime collaborators Thor Jensen (guitar), Ari Folman-Cohen (bass), Nick Anderson (drums) and Nick Driscoll (saxophone and clarinet). This ensemble’s instrumentation is fairly consistent with the bands that backed Reinhardt, although he formed a famous band The Hot Club of Paris with violinist Stephane Grappelli. If you are not sure if you’ve heard Wrembel before, consider that he is most known for his Grammy Award-winning composition “Bistro Fada,” the theme song of the 2011 Woody Allen Academy Award-winning film, "Midnight in Paris," which won the 2012 Grammy Award winner for best soundtrack. Subsequently, Wrembel was selected by award-winning composer/producer Hans Zimmer to perform at the 2012 Academy Awards as part of his “All Star Band.” Wrembel has contributed music to two other Allen films, commercials and TV, and has both a Clio Award and the Grammy under his belt. Wrembel has toured around the world and performed as a headliner at Carnegie Hall and at the Festival Django Reinhardt in France. He has also headlined at Lincoln Center, played major festivals, recorded with mandolin legend David Grisman, toured with master violinist Mark O’Connor and shared stages with everyone from Elvis Costello to Patti Smith to The Roots. The Gitane guitar company has even named a model after him. Greensboro is somewhat off the beaten path for a performer of this stature, so it is safe to say the Highland Center for the Arts has landed an exceptional act.   Highland Center for the Arts Gypsy jazz guitarist Sephane Wrembel and his band will perform at Highland Center For The Arts, 2875 Hardwick St., Greensboro, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9. Tickets are $15-$35 (all ages); call 802-533-9075, or go online to

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.