Week #444 ~ Minor Swing

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    The overwhelming winner this week is Minor Swing, composed by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

    From Wikipedia:

    "Minor Swing" is a popular Gypsy jazz tune composed by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. It was first recorded by The Quintet of the Hot Club of France in 1937. It was recorded five other times throughout Reinhardt's career and is considered to be one of his signature compositions, as well as a Gypsy jazz standard.[1]

    The composition was first released as a 78 single on the French Swing label in 1937 as SW.23A, Matrix #OLA1990-1, featuring Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli under the group name Quintette du Hot Club de France.

    Minor Swing is written in the key of A minor. Interestingly, apart from the brief introduction and final coda or playout, there is no discernable melody, just a repeated sequence of chord changes over which the key players improvise continuously until by some mutual agreement the end is decided and the playout performed. The introduction comprises a set of partial arpeggios over the chords Am/Dm/Am/Dm/Am/Dm/E7, followed by the main changes which are Am/-/Dm/-/E7/-/Am/-/ which are followed by Dm/-/Am/-/E7/-/Am/E7/, then the cycle begins again, until the playout which comprises some set arpeggios following the pattern of the first half of the tune with one repeat. In some modern treatments, the E7 in the middle of the second stanza may be replaced with Bb7 (a tritone substitution) and/or the second stanza sometimes replaced with a cycle of fifths based treatment for effect, i.e. Dm7/G7/Cmaj7/Fmaj7/Bø/E7/Am (etc.).[2] Although the chord changes may appear unremarkable and the entire structure somewhat repetitive, in live performance it is a well known vehicle which permits the soloist or soloists to demonstrate their virtuosity and musical skill for creating interesting melodic and rhythmic excursions over the familiar chord patterns, as well as the opportunity to quote from Django's own recorded melodic inventions over his own tune.

    Here's a thread on Mandolin Cafe about this tune. In reading this thread, it appears that the Gypsy Jazz Django version is played in Am, and the David Grisham version in D.

    I'm hoping some of our members can link to some notation for the different versions. It appears to me, this is a piece you need a number of instruments to really shine!

  2. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    This is my all time favorite recording of Minor Swing!

  3. OldSausage
    Sadly I can't see that YouTube, Michael - hope you can post it again. In the meantime, here's mine, along with a pic of my cat having a pleasant nap.

  4. luurtie
    You sound like a pro David! just perfect!
  5. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    You really capture the spirit of the music here, David. Lovely playing and backing. Eat your heart out, Django!
  6. Jairo Ramos Parra
    Jairo Ramos Parra
    Oldsausage is one of the best player in this forum, always a pleasure to hear! Luurtie, you are one of the best, too...and Mr.Kelly, the list is long...

    Oldsausage and Bertram Henze have the finest sense of humor in this forum!
  7. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Well done as always David.

    YouTube seems to be somewhat wonky lately. The album that the above version of Minor Swing comes from is entitled: Young Django. The complete album is available on YouTube as well. Stellar violin from Stephen Grappelli while accompanied by some jazz greats. Well worth listening to...
  8. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Here's a version on Minor Swing which my good friend, John Courtright and I first recorded back at the turn of the century. (Always wanted to say that!) I revisited the original recording and added a mandolin part today! The instruments are: a National resophonic mandolin, a Tacoma acoustic-electric guitar on lead and backup, and John played his Carvin acoustic-electric fretless bass.

  9. JL277z
    OldSausage has the caffeinated version, and I can almost see the dancers out on the dance floor.

    Michael Pastucha has the wonderfully mellow and soothing "don't worry about a thing" version, this is perfect music for calming down and taking one's mind off of one's problems for a little while.

    Well done, both!
  10. Brian560
    These versions of Minor Swing are amazing ! I have the music for this (swing minor) in Dix Bruce's Gypsy Swing for mandolin. I think I will hold off on this one, it seems to be quite the challenge: but Old Sausage and Michaels productions are certainly inspiring.
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