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Belgium-based guitarist Fabien Degryse reveals mastery of fingerstyle playing on new release
(Published: February 29, 2012)

A legend was born in guitarist Fabien Degryse's homeland, one whose shadow continues to haunt the jazz scene nearly 60 years after his death. The pioneer of Gypsy jazz, Django Reinhardt created a new framework for guitarists to play from, giving Belgium a significant role in the evolution of jazz. It is with this adventurous spirit that Degryse recorded his latest album, Fingerswingin', displaying his startling command of the acoustic guitar and emotionally charged take on fingerstyle playing.

Degryse has been studying the art of the guitar since the age of 10, shortly after his sister brought one of the instruments home. Oddly enough, despite having been influenced by jazz greats such as Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery, Degryse experienced trouble in translating the genre's standards with his guitar, even decades into his music career. Fingerswingin' is the result of his effort to resolve this problem. "I decided a few years ago that I wanted to be able to do what my relatives were always asking me - play us something, please," Degryse explained. "It might look strange, but after being a professional musician for more than 20 years, I still could not really play some jazz piece alone. So I started to arrange some jazz standards for solo guitar. I tried to mix the style I used to learn during my folk period with the jazz I played for years. You know, it's a big challenge for a jazz guitarist to play alone. Beside Joe Pass and a few others, there are not so many big names in the jazz guitar history who tried this experience."

Given the bold self-confidence and knife-sharp precision of his performances on Fingerswingin', it's hard to imagine that Degryse once struggled with these makeovers. "Fly Me to the Moon," for example, is awash with shimmering romanticism; Degryse's version caresses the heart like a silky kiss. However, despite Belgium's jazz heritage, Degryse is painfully aware that, for an independent project like this, it's going to be an uphill climb in garnering mainstream attention in his own backyard. "We have some programs to support the art in general, and the jazz in particular. But those programs are not really big and ambitious," Degryse revealed. "It helps us to make a living out of music, but it doesn't help us to promote ourselves internationally."

More Information: http://www.fabiendegryse.com

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