Boulou and Elios Ferre

The sons of the Manouche gypsy guitarist Pierre Matelot Ferret, who appeared on a few of Djangos recordings, Boulou and Elios Ferre bring gypsy swing into the modern era. They have upset the polite and pleasant mood of many a posh restaurant with the power and inventiveness of their playing. But those who expect to hear the familiar swing rhythms of the standard gypsy combos can leave bemused and disorientated. Boulou and Elios have largely abandoned the "boom chick" rhythms traditionally associated with gypsy jazz. They are no easy listening. They play gypsy jazz but from the other side of the fence. You have to bend you ear to hear where they are coming from.

It is however, worth the effort. The frightening power of Django's Rhythm Futur is awesome. And Douce Ambience swings with a gentle dissonance not normally associated with this tune.

Both Boulou and Elios have played guitar since early childhood (of course!) Boulou was transcribing Charlie Parker solos at the age of seven. He did his first "gig" at the Musee Guirnet in Paris a year later, and made his first record at the age of ten. In 1963, at the ripe old age of eleven, he enrolled in the Conservatoire National in Paris. This shows, not only through a strong classical influence in his music, but also through a considered restraint. He rarely plays fast. His technique is so far beyond flashy showmanship that speed never enters the equation. Instead we are treated to a unique and thoughtful blend of discord and harmony.

Elios, like his brother, studied guitar with his father, but initially chose a different direction, becoming an accomplished flamenco player. Later at the age of fifteen being urged into Jazz by his older brother. He can still be heard, on occasion, playing fine flamenco guitar, but normally supplies the chordwork and bass lines that compliment his brothers playing, only occasionally taking the lead.

Despite the variety of musical influences, the Ferre brothers music could never be called eclectic.

The rich musical traditions of the Manouche people have always been evident, at the heart of their playing. If you're extremely lucky and have a few bob to spare, you might catch them playing at one of the more exclusive restaurants in Paris, or to the petit bourgoisie in the upmarket resort towns in the South of France.

Recommended listening:

Boulou & Elios Ferre : "Pour Django"
Boulou Ferre Quartet : "Relax and Enjoy"
Boulou Ferre with Babik Reinhardt and Christian Escoud : "Three of a Kind".

Or any of their recordings you see.

But beware. It's another music from a different kitchen.

Submitted by Mark Strutt who is the editor of the Django Fanzine "Djazzology". Any contributions welcome.

Back to guitarists

Back to Swing Page