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Bireli Lagrene Licks

Bireli Lagrene was born in 1966 in a family of gypsy musicians. He started learning guitar at the age of four by copying Django Reinhardt's solos note by note.






In the early 80s he emerged as the child prodigy who sounded exactly like Django Reinhardt. He recorded his first album, 'Routes to Django', in 1980 at the age of 14.

A few gypsy jazz records later he wanted to take some distance from his Django sound and started playing jazz-rock fusion. In 1986 he recorded an album with bass player Jaco Pastorius, called' Stuttgart Aria' (see lick below).


Recommended listening: Gypsy Project

Bireli Lagrene Licks 1

This first Bireli lick features large interval skips, slides between notes, and chromatic notes over the underlying G7 chord.

Take your time with this lick, though while it is short in length the string skips can pose a technical challenge in the woodshed.


Listen & Play

Bireli Lagrene Guitar Tab : Lick 1


Bireli Lagrene Licks 2

This Dm7 lick in the typical Bireli style uses a repeated 5-note arpeggio pattern to create a syncopated feel across the phrase.

As well, the line is built from an Fmaj7 arpeggio, outlining the b3-5-b7-9 intervals over Dm7, which sounds the chord without hitting the root note at the same time.


Listen & Play

Bireli Lagrene Guitar Tab : Lick 2


Bireli Lagrene Licks 3

You will now move on to learning a major ii-V-I lick in the style of Bireli Lagrene, using the #7 from D melodic minor to create tension over the iim7 chord.

Though we often thing of melodic minor as being a tonic minor scale, often times jazzers will apply this scale to a iim7 chord, being careful to resolve that tension before moving forward in their solo.


Listen & Play

Bireli Lagrene Guitar Tab : Lick 3


Bireli Lagrene Licks 4

Here is a typical minor ii-V-I lick in the style of Bireli Lagrene, using a number of chord tones and arpeggio shapes as the foundation of the line.

As well, there is a classic Bebop phrase found twice within the line. Try taking this line out of the longer phrase and working it into your playing as it is an essential bit of vocabulary for any jazz guitarist to have down.


Listen & Play

Bireli Lagrene Guitar Tab : Lick 4


Bireli Lagrene Licks 5

The final lick you will learn in this lesson uses an A Whole Tone Scale to outline the A7alt chord in bar 2 of the phrase.

Though many of us consider the Altered Scale first when soloing over 7alt chords, the Whole Tone Scale can bring a welcomed change of tension over minor ii-V-I changes.


Listen & Play

Bireli Lagrene Guitar Tab : Lick 5



If you are a fan of Gypsy or modern jazz guitar, than studying Bireli's lines and phrases is a great place to start when incorporating these styles into your own jazz guitar solos and improvisations.





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