November 27, 2022

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

caravan palace [by Lewis Saul]

2 min read

French swing – or “gypsy jazz” – has its origins in a group called the Quintette du Hot Club de France, formed in 1934 by guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli. Since Reinhardt came from a gypsy family, the term stuck.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this early American-influenced jazz was La Pompe – the way Reinhardt strummed the guitar and gave the 2nd and 4th beat a strong feel regardless of the tempo. The harmonic and melodic components of this music are further described in the link above…


Fast forward to the 1970s.

Two & Four have been popular for decades. In fact, one & three is downright cheesy.

But then came Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in 1973 with The Love I Lost. About thirty seconds into the melody you can hear this in the bass:

This became known as four-on-the-floor and would usher in the (ugh) disco era.

Well, it wasn’t Harold’s fault either, or poor Donna Summer’s (she did have a fabulous voice) – but for a decade we had to listen to this music, which got boring very quickly because nothing interesting happened beyond that harmful punch.


I’m not a huge fan of music being produced these days, as my three daughters in their 30s will readily attest. But my eldest, who was roaming the many concert stages at Coachella a few years ago (I picture Charles Ives on a bad LSD trip), heard a bit of music by a band called Caravan Palace. She thought I might enjoy her.

It started with three talented French musicians – violinist Hugo Payen; Guitarist Arnaud Vial and bassist Charles Delaporte – they’re doing a soundtrack for a silent film. They recruited more musicians on Myspace (yeah, remember that thing?) and discovered charming and talented lead singer Zoé Colotis (named after a butterfly) – and they were soon a worldwide hit.

The musical trick that has my ears tingling (your might not, chacun à son, y’know?) is the combination of that heavy four-on-the-floor (much more bone-crushing than poor old Harold) with an ultra-smart upper region , filled with cool licks played by conservatory-trained musicians and very hip lyrics.

Sample of Miracle:

Every day is a miracle
(Help each other)
Reconnect with people
(give it to your lover)
And all the people you miss
(let’s go already)
(act like a brother)
Don’t think you’re invisible

Their videos are also amazing:

Miracle Dramophone Supersonics Rock it for Me Moonshine Suzy Jolie Coquine Lone Digger

I dare not get up and dance.

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