Gypsy jazzer keeps Django flame alive

Paris-born Gypsy-swing jazz guitarist Tchavolo Schmitt starts his five-date Japan tour in Kita Kyushu on Oct. 9, before finishing up in Tokyo on Oct. 14. Born in 1954 to a violinist father and guitar-playing mother, Schmitt started learning his instrument aged 6, before beginning his career in earnest in the cafes and clubs of Strasbourg.

While playing in the tradition of Gypsy-jazz great Django Reinhardt, who gained fame in the 1930s and ’40s, Schmitt is a virtuoso in his own right, well respected not only for his Django covers but also his own compositions, most recently seen on his album “Les Pommes de ma Douche,” released this summer. Schmitt’s profile received a boost when he appeared as a Gypsy guitarist in the French-Japanese film “Swing” (2002).

Gypsy-swing jazz is keenly followed in Japan — two Tokyo clubs (Ikebukuro’s Blue Drag and Sendagi’s Jazz Club Django) feature nothing but the genre — which is why Schmitt’s Ginza show at Oji Hall on Oct. 13 has already sold out. Fortunately, Schmitt also plays another Tokyo show — at Shibuya Duo Music Exchange on Oct. 14 (6,000 yen in advance, tel. [03] 3498-2881). Other dates are: Hibiki Hall, Kita Kyushu City on Oct. 9 (2,000 yen, tel. [093] 662-3025); Biwako Hall in Shiga on Oct. 11 (4,500 yen, tel. [077] 523-7136); and Club Quattro in Nagoya on Oct. 12 (5,500 yen, tel. [052] 264-8211).