Stephane Wrembel Band at The Regattabar
Stephane Wrembel is quite simply one of the finest guitar players in the world. The breadth and range of his playing and compositions are unmatched. To say that Wrembel-- who learned his craft among the Gypsies at campsites in the French countryside-- has already had a remarkable career would be an under-statement. This prolific, virtuoso guitarist from France has been releasing a steady stream of music since 2006 and has truly made his mark as one of the most original guitar voices in contemporary music.
David Frick at Rolling Stone Magazine called him "a revelation." Oscar-winning director Woody Allen recruited him to score the theme song for the smash 2011 film, Midnight in Paris. Wrembel performed the irresistibly catchy "Bistro Fada" live during the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony. He has headlined Lincoln Center, played major festivals, recorded with mandolin legend David Grisman, toured with master violinist Mark O'Connor and shared stages with everyone from Elvis Costello to Patti Smith to The Roots. The Gitane guitar company has even named a model after him.
Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, the home of Impressionism and Django Reinhardt, Wrembel first studied classical piano at the age of four. In his mid-teens, Wrembel discovered that he had an affinity for guitar. "I started practicing very intensely," he says. "I was a big Pink Floyd fan; that remains my favorite music. I spent hours learning David Gilmour's style. When I was 17, I decided to become a professional musician. I knew I had to practice 18 hours a day, and decided that was what I was going to do. I had a classical background, a passion for rock music, and then I found out about Django. I fell in love with the very strong impressionist feel in his music."
To further his knowledge of music overall, and to gain experience, Wrembel immersed himself in the Gypsy culture. "When I first started going to the camps I learned that music is not only the notes," he says. "There is an atmosphere to it. I started learning what it really means to play Sinti style guitar. In the camps you play all day long, nonstop. You don't learn technical things. The culture doesn't use names for things; they just practice melody. By playing and playing and playing you become entranced. The music just comes by itself."
Although Wrembel certainly loves paying homage to his roots, he is in no way bound to his own past. Hence the title of his fifth album Origins, which includes his most recognizable song, "Bistro Fada." Wrembel had been happy to oblige when Allen's producer requested "a work that would reflect the magic of Paris" for the Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris. 2012's Origins touched upon everything from blues to flamenco to rock; all of these influences came together as a genre identifiable only as Stephane Wrembel.
In March of 2017, Wrembel released The Django Experiment I and The Django Experiment II, to coincide with the 2017 Django A Gogo Music Festival at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall. Both recordings feature the music of Django Reinhardt as well as original compositions by Wrembel and a few other writers and received rave reviews including coverage in Jazz Times, Downbeat, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Weekly, All About Jazz, and more!
On January 23, 2018, Wrembel will release The Django Experiment III to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Reinhardt. The new year will find Wrembel performing at several highly recognized Django birthday celebrations, touring the East Coast of the U.S. and France while putting the finishing touches on the 2nd annual Django A Gogo for spring of 2018.
And although he has built his reputation as a stylist in the mode of the iconic French Sinti guitarist Django Reinhardt, Wrembel revels in transcending and expanding. "I just play my own music," he says. "I like to believe that it is beyond any one genre and that there is something in it for everyone. It's not only for the rock music lover, or for the Django lover; it's not only for the jazz lover. It's for the music lover."