Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jimmy Rosenberg: The Father, The Son and the Talent

Jimmy Rosenberg: The Father, The Son and the Talent ( English) Jimmy Rosenberg: De vader, de zoon en het talent ( Nederlands)

Hans Koert

While it is common for talented players to learn Django’s solos note-for-note as part of their learning process, Jimmy, even as a 12 year-old, surpassed this and was creating his own masterpieces, demonstrating a genius and maturity beyond his formative years. Married at 16, the chain-smoking , beer drinking teenager seems to live every part of his life ahead of time, yet still remains unfazed by the constant adulation heaped on him. ( Charles Alexander in Masters of Jazz Guitar ( British edition 1999 – p.157)
A few months ago I found myself a copy of the documentary Jimmy Rosenberg – De Vader, De Zoon & Het Talent.( = Jimmy Rosenberg: The Father, The Son & The Talent). This film was made by Jeroen Berkvens and released in 2007 for the Humanistische Omroep, a Dutch broadcasting-organisation.

Jimmy and his father
When you hear the name Rosenberg, you will instinctively think about the Rosenberg Trio, featuring the brothers Nous'che and Nonnie and cousin Stochello Rosenberg. This group, founded in the 1970s as a family group is now one of the leading trios in Europe playing the music of Django Reinhardt.
Jimmy ( in the middle) as part of the Gipsy Kids.
Jimmy Rosenberg is a nephew of these three musicians and was born in Asten (The Netherlands) in April 1980 as son of Papi Weisz and Macky Rosenberg. Jimmy, being a Sinti, grew up in the musical tradition of Django’s music as his musical guide.
He developed himself, at a young age, as a wonderful guitar playing kid and at the age of ten he was a guest at the BBC-documentary Django’s Legacy. He became a member of the Gipsy Kids with Sani Van Mullum and Falko Reinhardt, a great-nephew of Django. He played with musicians like Stephane Grappelli, made recordings with the Hot Club de Norvege from Jon Larsen and became a sought after child star for TV stations in Holland, Belgium and even Japan. He even got a record contract from Columbia Tristar.
Enjoy a film fragment with Jimmy, Falko and Kaatchie at a Gypsy get together in Gerwen, Brabant in the southern part of The Netherlands. Jimmy must be ca.12-years old here.

The documentary Jimmy Rosenberg – De Vader, De Zoon & Het Talent describes what happened with little Jimmy, who became a child star – about his heroin-dependence, his kicking the habit, the months he was in prison, due to a violent crime, the attempts to return in the international jazz scene ……….. His mental problems and the relations with his father makes it an emotional document …………. served up with a lot of great guitar music.

Although the documentary is in Dutch ( and even the subtitles are in Dutch) the original documentary has English subtitles. Even without understanding the spoken words the fragment contains some great music.
In 1998, 18 years old, he toured along Scandinavia and the States and performed with musicians like Les Paul and George Benson in Carnegy Hall. In 2000 he was a guest of honour at the first ever Django Reinhardt Festival in New York, scedulded at Birdland. He earned a lot of money, and lived a life of luxury with expensive cars. At this age it is hard for him to remain level-headed, also because his father was, during this improtant period in his life, in jail for many years. And, as the saying goes: Set a beggar on horseback and he’ll ride to the devil. Jimmy was unable to handle the situation. In July 2004 it’s all over . Jimmy collapsed and was arrested.

Although the documentary is in Dutch ( and even the subtitles are in Dutch) the original documentary has English subtitles. Even without understanding the spoken words the fragment contains some great music.
When I saw the documentary, I linked it to the life of Michael Jackson, the other child star, who passed away a month ago, isolated, lonely and broken. The pop star who had to act, still being an infant, a life like a grown up, night after night, a child star that wasn’t allowed to be a child. This documentary contains a lot of film fragments, where you can see little Jimmy and his huge guitar, playing virtuoso combined with contemporary shots from Jimmy being at odds with himself, subject to great pressure by his family and relatives.

The film ends with a return to Samois (France), where the annual Gypsy Jazz Festival is scheduled and where his father hopes that the golden era will return again ……………

The documentary has an open end …………… fact is that Jimmy made a great come back at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, a year after the documentary was finished ( July 2007).

Unfortunally Jimmy’s official website hasn’t been updated since January 2008that’s food for thoughts.
Jimmy is a special man. There is only a few people in the current generation of living zigeuner musicians only a few people that can improvise..Most of them can play set pieces and it’s very beautiful, but then when you go to a concert the next week abd ask for this same tunes you heard the week before .. with Jimmy it’s always new. People like him and Bireli Legrene - they are pretty rare, maybe two or three in the world. ( Toni Williams, Jimy's manager, in the documentary)

Hans Koert


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Blogger Jo said...

A fascinated portrait of a great talent outliving his art and life on the edge, thanks a lot for pointing the readers of the blog to the mentioned documentary. Great inserted film fragments, too.


11:15 AM  
Blogger ledarieljazz said...

this can be downloaded here or just the information?

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Durium said...

Sorry, but the Keep Swinging blog never contains downloads ..........


8:11 AM  

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