My first Gypsy Jazz Guitar lesson;
After a first appointment that I unfortunately could not attend to I was in for a rematch tonight....
I felt strangly calm during the afternoon rush hour, the extra time I had planed getting to my teachers home was slowly ticking away as the cars infront of me wouldn't move an inch. It was only when I got to the final traffic light around the corner of Popy Basily's home that my handpalms started to get slightly damp. I parked my car next to a big trailer home at the entrance of the small Sinti settlement and wandered on to the alley between the houses. I had forgotten to write down the exact housenumber and the names on the mailboxes didn't really help out as many of them had Basily written on them.
Just as I was about to ask a young boy walking a small dog the way to Popy's house I heard my name being called behind me.
Fashionably as always with his long black coat, tailord pants and shiny shoes Popy showed me the way to his home. Arriving at the front door he kicked of his shoes in a reflex. When I asked him if I should do the same he firmly recommended it if I had the intention to stay in good understanding with the lady of the house. Needles to say my socks were touching the rug within seconds.
My teacher Popy Basily
After meeting Popy's wife and kid "Tchavo" (wich later turned out not to be the name of his son but the Sinti word for "Boy") we sat down around the kitchen table and picked up our guitars. Then the first question I had so much anticipated upon the last few weeks came; "So... show me what you got." and of course the even so strongly awaited nerves really kicked in now. Somehow I managed to get out a very poor version of "Montagne St. Genevieve" I had spent so much sweat on practicing the last few months. Popy didn't really seem to be impressed, and frankly I don't blame him.
So I desided to pick myself togheter and show him my chord progression on Minor Swing I started practicing since saturday. As soon as I struck the second chord Popy joined me and started improvising. He then corrected me on the chords, showed me what they where supossed to be: "A Minor", then "the one you just did", followed by "the other one on the third dot". Ten minutes later we where making music! Me stumbling over my chords and Popy keeping everything together with a beautiful improvised melody. When I asked him the names of the chords so I could write them down Popy admitted not knowing all of them. "I know how to play them, not what they are called." I replied that it surely was better than knowing them all by name without being able to play them. This was Gypsy Jazz the way the Gypsy teach it, and I absolutely loved it....
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