Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Didier Lockwood, Stanley Clarke, Stéphane Grappelli, Larry Coryell, Miroslav Vitous, Lenny White, Dennis Chambers, Victor Bailey, Richard Galliano, Martial Solal.
What is left today of the child prodigy that was Biréli Lagrène? A wonderful musician, a magician of the guitar’s most dazzling, a “choreographer” of the six-string as the current account on the fingers of one hand.
From the beginning, music was his language, that of Reinhardt’s school. Destiny inevitable when we are born, like him, in Alsace (1966), one is from the great gypsy family, and the chance identifies you as a gifted in this area. Quicksilver spirit, Biréli will catch quickly the story. Beyond rigor which was his apprenticeship (with his father and with his brother), from this incredible blend of strength and precision, Lagrène will never miss the point: “Django helped me to see what is happening elsewhere” he likes to recall. From this great lesson of freedom, he knew how to capture like no other. His first major public shows (including Montreux, 1981) offer a striking testimony.
But soon the call of the sea leads him outside the family clan. To stay true to himself, and walk according to his own artistic star Biréli not hesitate to make man break. Out with the gypsy cocoon, to embark on the adventure of fusion. Jaco Pastorius (ex-Weather Report) has been there. Jaco with which Biréli share the stage in 1986, and whose influence on our guitarist (now, in the meantime, a amazing bassist) go to mimicry (were, moreover, the enormous adaptability and other instrumental facilities he has shown since the man may also need to be transformed into remarkable keyboardist, and it feeds a growing private passion for the violin). So far this extraordinary taste and affinity for music material meets an insatiable curiosity Biréli then multiplies experiences and encounters with all that the jazz world has unique and compelling personalities (Stéphane Grappelli, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Miroslav Vitous, Lenny White, Dennis Chambers, Victor Bailey…) not to mention its hexagonal partners among the most prestigious: Didier Lockwood, Richard Galliano … or more recently Martial Solal.
The 90s for those Biréli recognition and consecration, obtained by playing standards (“Live in Marciac”, 1994). Under classical (since Lagrène has, too, that card stock). Django d’Or in 1993, Victoire de la Musique in 2001 and 2002, Biréli collect trophies, and points to the early 2000s an incredible challenge: replay music from its origins, while remaining itself. A dangerous game that usually it is (one facing the mirror) one of the few not to fall into the trap of narcissism. Balancing act and real achievement, the epic “Gipsy Project” is a triumph (which culminates with a “Live in Vienna” absolutely mind-blowing). The loop is looped, and the time came for one of the greatest guitarists of our time going to new shores. New formula, new inspiration and new music to explore closer to blues, a man definitely “in motion”. Max Robin
“The MULTIAMP has a great sound, distortion or clean plus great effects.”,says Biréli,“It has what a guitarist needs.”
photo: Andrea Rotili