Inauguration of Gypsy Jazz festival by Ambassador Carmona [fr]
On 12 March 2016, French Ambassador to Nepal, HE Mr. Yves Carmona, inaugurated Gypsy Jazz festival at the Alliance Française de Katmandou in Teku.
You will find below his speech as well as few pictures.
A gypsy jazz music festival is, by essence, international. In that context, there has always been a special connection between gypsy music , jazz music and France. So I am very honoured to attend the 3rd Nepal gypsy jazz festival, which was founded by Hari Maharjan with the support of his friend, a French musician, Daniel Givone, who has come to Nepal every year for 16 years. I am looking forward to listening for the first time to that Nepalese band managed by Prateek Pradhan.
I would like to remind in a few words where this music comes from.
The gypsies – in French gitans, Roms, Romanichels, etc. - are said to have moved one millenary ago from the Indian subcontinent to the West. In that course, they eventually reached France and neighbouring countries and many of them found it a good place to live in. But for these nomad people, it never meant to settle down but seasonally travelling through France and Europe.
One of the reasons for travelling has been pilgrimage since they are very religious. The pilgrimage of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, although only one century old, is one of the best known and gathers, every year, thousands of gypsies from France, Spain and other countries.
One more reason for travelling has been trade. Since the Middle Age, the gypsies were part of the commercial animation of big trans European routes, trading all kinds of goods but also news, legends, stories, dreams.
For these nomads, it made more sense to play musical instruments easy to carry with them, mainly the guitar, the violin and all kinds of percussions for what is a rhythmic and festive style.
Along with them, they also carried the customs of the countries they crossed. There is not such a thing as a gypsy state neither a unified language, apart from a few words, like “gadjo” for a non gypsy. So their common language has always been music as a link between them, and also with the “gadje”.
Music has been the link between their tradition and the black Americans one. That meeting of souls started in France during WW1 and after. Quite a few Americans, including blues and jazz musicians, had found in France a place they liked to live in and ears for their new music. Among their audience were gypsy musicians, including the prince of gypsy guitar players, Django Reinhardt. For him, listening to records of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong was a revelation. And he rewarded American born jazz with a completely new style of guitar playing : more than rhythmic chords, virtuoso riffs.
So when “the Duke” himself came to Paris in 1939, the first thing he did was to go listen to Django and improvise with him!
I won’t go too much into details but it is good to mention that after Django’s death in 1953, his legacy has developed. Gypsy jazz, just like jazz overall, is a living music, constantly recreated all over the world with new styles and techniques. And it has opened itself to non-gypsies, “gadjé” like Daniel who has gained recognition from authentic gypsies for his style and spirit.
I wish you all a pleasant concert.