Daniel John Martin with Dave Cottle Trio
Time & Location
About the Event
Daniel John Martin: Jazz Violin and Vocals.
A unique and charismatic performer and one of the most talented and sought after violinists of his generation, Daniel’s singing, swinging violin has joined such world Gypsy guitar greats as Boulou Ferre, Angelo DeBarre and Romane amongst many others. Born in the UK, spending his childhood in Africa, Daniel then studied violin at Parisian conservatoires, where jazz became his first love. His sources of inspiration include Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, Art Pepper and Cannonball Adderley.
Born just outside Manchester to a British mother and French father, followed by formative years in Africa (Senegal and then South Africa), and finally settling in Paris in his late teens, Daniel John Martin knows more than a little about the nomadic life. Was this what eventually drew his destiny to the gypsy jazz music founded by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli in the 1930s, or was it simply a natural path taken with the instrument he readily confesses he is “totally mad about”? Per-haps a little of both. But first, Daniel hastens to point out, there really is no such thing as ‘gypsy jazz’.
“The term ‘gypsy jazz’ has been popularised and we use it because it’s well known but, in reality, the music that Django Reinhardt and others were making was so much more than any narrowed term. I think Reinhardt is comparable to someone like Thelonius Monk; his music was ahead of its time and its legacy still is in many ways. He was a jazz man first and foremost who found a way to express himself and his desire for liberty in a new and refreshing way,” says Daniel.
Of course, the fact that he was a gypsy, from the Manouche clan (a reason ‘gypsy jazz’ is also sometimes referred to as ‘Manouche jazz’), would have naturally influenced his playing and his music now forms a part of the rightly-proud gypsy community’s identity. However, as Daniel points out, it’s still “just jazz” and doesn’t need to be limited by any other label.
Starting on the violin aged six in South Africa, Daniel has nurtured a lifelong obsession with the in-strument, admitting that when he’s not practising, he can often be found hanging out with modern luthiers learning more about the violin’s workings and anything new on offer: “I love playing on modern instruments and staying up to date with everything that’s available to push the boundaries of the sound. It’s why I’m such a fan of the Wittner fine-tune pegs and other accessories that allow me the freedom to do this.”
This desire to explore every aspect of the violin’s capabilities is perhaps one of the reasons he fell so hard for jazz and the ‘gypsy jazz’ style in particular. When he was first introduced to it as a young violinist in Paris, being taken to gypsy camps all over France by young gypsy friends from the Mayer, Weiss and Reinhardt families, he was simply whisked away by this sound that opened up so many possibilities for him and his fiddle.
“Jazz is like a virus really and once you’ve got it, you can’t get rid of it! It’s a very complex musical form that I find represents life especially well. It has a lot to do with ego; you’re always expressing yourself instead of at the mercy of someone else’s will, which is great but also brings its own com-plications. You’ve got to remember to share, share the music and the emotions with the audience and your fellow musicians.”