In the months leading to his death in 1953, the innovative guitarist Django Reinhardt expressed regret that he would soon be forgotten and wind up a parenthesis in the history of jazz. But today the elegant, swinging “jazz manouche” that he invented and developed is as vibrant and alive as ever. No one has done more to carry the torch and create interest for this music than the amazing Dorado Schmitt. He is considered a leading figure on the international gypsy jazz scene. He is a unique musical ambassador, whose mere name fills gypsy jazz aficionados with enthusiasm. He tours all over the world with his band. It is true that we can no longer experience Django on stage, but Dorado and his group are more than next best.
Dorado was born in St. Avold, Lorraine in 1957. He grew up in a musical family, which played traditional Roma music and gypsy jazz. He began playing at the age of seven, and despite a time in his teenage years, when he revolted and began playing electric guitar in imitation of Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, he still learned every detail in Django’s style.
In 1978 he formed the popular Dorado Trio with Gino Reinhardt on upright bass and Hono Winterstein on guitar. In 1988 a traffic accident put him in a coma for eleven days and could have ended his career, but he fought his way back, and two years later he reformed his band. After his return to music, Dorado plays guitar and violin with equal vitality.
Dorado Schmitt is among the very best heirs to the music of Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and Le Quintette de Hot Club du France. Its origins reach back to the old French ballroom musettes played by people who earned their living through craft, trade and music. In the Belgian Walloon region they played mussette music, and in the Pyrenees they played the music that we now associate with groups like The Gypsy Kings. When American jazz reached Europe in the 1920’s, the Belgian and French gypsies borrowed from its repertoire. It was popular music. There were jobs to play and money to be made. But they played the tunes their own way, and this became gypsy jazz – or jazz manouche as it is also called. The finest player was Django Reinhardt. With Stephane Grappelli and Le Quintette de Hot Club du France, he soon became an international sensation. Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong and many other American jazz musicians visited Paris. The city became the jazz capitol of Europe.
Dorado beams with pride when he presents his son Amati. And like father, like son – or perhaps better yet! Amati carries on the long tradition of this music with virtuosic ease. In fast or slow tempi Amati plays with strength and authority, like a new international star.
Father and son are joined by their ever-swinging regular rhythm section from France – perhaps the very best in gypsy jazz – the rock-steady Franco Mehrstein on rhythm guitar and Xavier Nikq on bass. Danish Esben Mylle Strandvig is an expert on this particular jazz style and has worked with Dorado for a number of years. He is proud to act as an extra rhythm guitarist on this recording – no holds barred.
This new release, SINTI DU MONDE, is a welcome follow-up to their acclaimed Stunt album from 2014, AMATI & DORADO SCHMITT: LIVE. It was recorded during their 2015 Danish tour at Det Bruunske Pakhus in Fredericia after the concert audience had left. The acoustics, the atmosphere and spirit of the venue inspired them to record “on the rocks” – no short cuts, editing or clever machines. Just the music as it is and as it is played at parties, weddings and funerals. Music for the people!