Le Pompe (translation “The Pump”) is what gives gypsy jazz that urgent drive. Le Pompe refers to the strumming pattern that guitarists use in this style of music. Although strumming is a strange word for it as it’s more of a drumming. From what I’ve been told, a true Le Pompe takes years to learn. I believe it.
Yesterday I worked with Ryan Hoffman from Pearl Django on Le Pompe. In describing what he was doing and how the beats fit in the song, he told us that it was like a “rhythm beneath the rhythm”. Six or seven years ago I took some jazz piano classes and remember my piano teacher saying something similar.
The rhythm beneath the rhythm.
Isn’t this what separates great literature from good literature? Great literature takes a pattern, a truth, and then burrows beneath it, looking for the rhythm beneath the rhythm.
It’s intimidating think that this is something that can only be achieved after a decade or more of practice.
Last year at our residency Judith Barrington gave a talk on what she referred to as the “reptilian brain”, that sleeping ancient evolutionary ancestor within us that responds on a more visceral level. I wonder if these rhythms beneath the rhythms don’t also reside here.
Take a peek at Birelly Lagrene playing: