Stephane Wrembel Band
About Stephane and The Stephane Wrembel Band
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.
The New York Observer said, “Stephane Wrembel represents the living face of Gypsy jazz.” Rolling Stone Magazine has called him “a revelation”.
Since last January, The Stephane Wrembel Band has been promoting two new recordings on Water Is Life Records, The Django Experiment I and II. Both albums primarily feature The Stephane Wrembel Band’s own interpretation of the songs of legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, as well as Wrembel’s original compositions, and those of other writers of the same vein of music. The Django Experiment I and II were released in conjunction with the Wrembel-produced Django A Gogo concert held at Carnegie Hall on March 3, 2017. The event received rave reviews and included guitar masters Al Di Meola, Larry Keel, Stochelo Rosenberg and other gifted musicians all celebrating the music of Django Reinhardt. The Stephane Wrembel Band will release The Django Experiment III on January 23, 2018.
Stephane Wrembel is widely known for “Bistro Fada”, the theme song from the 2011 Woody Allen Oscar winning film, Midnight In Paris. Subsequently, Wrembel was hand-selected by award winning composer/producer Hans Zimmer to perform at the 2012 Academy Awards® as part of his “All Star Band.” Then, Midnight in Paris won a Grammy Award for “Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media”.
He has toured around the world, and is very active on the musical scene in many countries including USA, Canada, France, Israel and India. Recently, Stephane has performed as a headliner at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Festival Django Reinhardt in France. Wrembel has also headlined at 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. To say that Stephane 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 virtuoso guitarist from France has truly just begun to make his mark as one of the most original guitar voices in contemporary music.
The Stephane Wrembel Band includes long-time collaborators Thor Jensen (guitar), Ari Folman Cohen (bass), and Nick Anderson (drums).
More about Stephane Wrembel
Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, the home of Impressionism and Django, Wrembel first studied classical piano, at the age of four. “My teacher played with many renowned musicians,” he says. “She was very old school but she taught me how to interpret and how to make a phrase from beginning to end. My entire classical training from ages 4 to 16 was about how to interpret.” 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 after I got my high school diploma I 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. By going there I started learning the atmosphere of 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.”
As he progressed as a player, Wrembel knew where he wanted to be in order to surround himself with expert, forward-thinking players. He enrolled in Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2000, graduated summa cum laude two years later and moved to New York in 2003. Now the big question was how to make a living doing what he loved? “Most musicians arrive in New York and they look for a job to make money,” he says. “But then they don’t have time to practice and they have to depend on something external for money. I arrived with no money, and I said, ‘I have to find money right now. How do I do it?’ I called every single restaurant and club in New York. I went to each and every one with my rhythm player. We sat with the owners, talked, and played guitar. Then, we would get the gig.”
Before long, word of this remarkable European transplant began spreading among fellow musicians and denizens of the teeming New York music scene. Reviewing his 2002 debut album, Introducing Stephane Wrembel, Vintage Guitar magazine praised the recording as “pure dazzle and dash, a stunning storm of notes that blankets the melody in a rain of arpeggiated notes.” Gypsy Rumble, released in 2005, whichincludes David Grisman among its guests, and the following year’s Barbes-Brooklyn, also found favor with critics. Time Out New York wrote that the latter “shows off Wrembel’s limber chops in a variety of settings, including ebullient French Gypsy swing, moody ballads, sultry raga-influenced numbers and a lithe cover of Mongo Santamaria’s ‘Afro Blue.’” Woody Allen used one of the album’s tracks, “Big Brother,” in his 2008 film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Wrembel’s fourth album, Terre Des Hommes, was released the same year. In addition to making a splash with his recordings, Wrembel has dazzled audiences at such major gatherings as the High Sierra Music Festival, the Berkshire Mountain Festival, Whistler International Music Festival and many others, as well as at Lincoln Center. He also created his own event, the annual Django A Go-Go Festival, where he and others influenced by Reinhardt celebrate the Sinti guitar style.
Although Wrembel certainly loves paying homage to his roots—hence the title of his fifth album Origins—and was happy to oblige when Allen’s producer requested “a work that would remind of the magic of Paris” for the Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris, he is in no way bound to his own past. Origins touched upon everything from blues to flamenco to rock; all of these influences came together as a genre identifiable only as Stephane Wrembel.
“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.”