Monday, November 27, 2017

The Ferret Brothers - Guitarists In Django’s Shadow (2)

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester tells the story of the Ferret brothers – contemporary Gypsy guitarists of Django Reinhardt. The story is in three parts, below follows part two.  The first part is available herethe third part is published later.

Etienne “Sarane”Ferret (1912 – 1970)
The second son of the Ferret family became the one who made far more jazz recordings than both his brothers, in total over 50 tracks. This is rather astonishing since he was hardly considered an established guitarist.
Etienne 'Sarane' Ferret
Jazz attracted Sarane right from the start and, once in Paris, he rather soon played with violinist Michel Warlop as well as with the accordionists Gus Viseur and Tony Murena, all great improvisers. So like his elder brother – Sarane was active in the Musette scene and recorded with accordionists thereby playing in the Django style. But he could also often be seen in Russian cabarets which were popular among the many Russians who had come to  the French capital. This kind of gypsy music also attracted West-European tourists. Great musicians in those places then were cymbalum player Nitra Codolban and violinist Jean Gulesco. From these artists the young Sarane learned a lot. Because he also met Django, he became even  more interested in jazz where the banjo was replced by the guitar. Sarane was quite familiar with this instrument and he performed with jazz accordionists such as Charley Bazin, Louis Richardet, Viseur and Murena ! In 1939 his quality as a soloist was confirmed when – during a tour in England – he replaced Django in the London “Kilburn” theatre.

However, of even more importance is that, in the early Forties, Sarane formed the Swing Quintette de Paris which gave us many of his own compositions. More or less like Django’s new quintet, Sarane’s formation included two clarinet players viz. André Lluis and Sylvio Siobud.  In the first recordings of this quintet (1941) Matelo is present in the rhythm group; shortly afterwards also Baro joined the quintet. 

Odeon 281.494_Tiger Rag
Somewhat later Sarane replaced the two clarinettists by the violinist Robert Bermosa.   A remarkable recording of this formation is Sarane’s performance of the Tiger Rag with very quick runs in his solos (like Django did in the Thirties). Also the violin player shows a great ‘drive’ on this record.

Georges Effroses
One year later this ensemble is back in the studio but now with violinist Georges Effroses. Also Sarane’s brothers are present in the rhythm group. Recordings show us a solo guitarist with sometimes a lyrical way of improvising. The same can be said of the Israelian violin player, who – in 1943 disappeared. Later it was revealed that the artist had died in a concentration camp.

Towards the end of the war a few records of Sarane and a string quartet were issued and the formation now included guitarist Jacques Montagne (member of the Malha family).Then follows a rather long gap, but in the spring of 1947 Sarane finally made recordings again with his own group now called Le Quintette de Paris featuring  accordionist Gus Viseur. And again several years passed.
Sarane Ferret in 1950s
It was only in the late Fifties that a number of tracks of Sarane and his orchestra came out again; the band inluded several musicians who played with Django shortly before his death in 1953.Some names: Benny Vasseur, Roger Guérin and Maurice Vander. For me personally, the recordings are not so interesting. These were about his last sessions and from then his activities declined.

Sarane Ferret finally died in 1970 (58 years old) as the first of the three brothers.

Georg Lankester 

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