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Swing Jazz With The Pete Long Orchestra At Church House London | Learn To Play La Pompe Rhythm

Ready to swing with the Pete Long Orchestra at Church House, Westminster in London.

It was an absolute pleasure to be pomping away again Big Band styley with the awesome Pete Long Orchestra in London last week.

The event was a fund raiser for Navy Wings who keep historical aircraft in the air for future generations. The venue was the excellent Church House in Westminster, London. Steeped in a bit of history itself.

I also got to play a fun, swinging Trio set with Pete on clarinet and Joe Pettitt on double bass before the main show. Joe's a Big Band leader too and I'm in awe of these two virtuoso musicians who can organise and conduct so many incredible players for concerts and events.

First time I wore a white tuxedo too! I can see why Django sported one on many occasions during his career. I felt very snazzy and the trick is to keep it well away from food/drinks during the band meal.

Here's a pic of Pete, Joe and I during our cocktail set.

Pete Long, Joe Pettitt and Jonny Hepbir
Sharp dressed men

The band played a very Sinatra heavy set with 'Frank' stylist Atila on smooth vocals. There were also plenty of Glenn Miller hits in keeping with the theme of the evening.

Here's a sneaky shot of the maestro leading the band taken from my workstation.

Pete Long taking care of business

Playing rhythm guitar in a Big Band setting is vastly different than the same role in a Gypsy Jazz setting although there are some similarities.

Django Reinhardt had many styles of rhythm going on throughout his many line-ups over the years.

For the last ten years or so I've been more influenced by the later period rhythm sound he had. It was less of a 'jaunty' swing sound, typified by the 30's and early 40's Hot Club line-ups, and more driving, similar to a 'flat four' Freddie Green Count Basie big band vibe.

It was after playing with the great Lulu Reinhardt on a number of occasions between 2009-2013 that I started dropping the 'swishy' element a bit.

Lulu's astounding rhythm playing (and soloing) along with his brother Geisela Reinhardt, Hans'che Weiss and Ziroli Winterstein were a big influence on me.

If I play with players who are influenced by the early Quintet sound, I can always tell the difference. Nothing wrong in that at all as long as everyone can keep time but I'd say the later Django years matched the big band sound more.

Here's a short video of a rhythm example where I play four rounds (AABA) of the jazz standard 'What Is This Thing Called Love' at four speeds.

This straddles both Hot Club and Big Band feel and is generally how I play rhythm in these line-up situations.

If you're getting into La Pompe, this is good fun playing along with the four tempos.

For more information on how to play Gypsy Jazz guitar, please click HERE for my tuition page.

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