There are many great gypsy jazz guitarists out there and I am still discovering ones that I haven’t heard. I am sure that I should have heard of Tchavolo Schmitt before this year but I hadn’t. That may be because he has never been prolific in releasing CDs and he didn’t appear on his debut CD until 2000 when he was 46 years old. I don’t have any other sources of information apart from the CD liner notes but it would appear that he has always played gypsy jazz guitar in the true Django tradition and has earned a meagre living playing in bars with little interest in releasing recodings or becoming more well known, though he was part of the Hot Club Da Sinti in the late 70s/early 80s
Tchavolo has 4 CDs that are currently available – Alors Voila from 2000, Memories of Django (with Angelo Debarre) from 2004, Loutcha from 2005, and Mili Familia which I haven’t yet managed to buy. They are all great CDs and well worth a listen. Tchavolo plays very much in the pure Django style with no modern harmonic devices and really swings on all the tunes he plays. The Alors Voila CD is available in an enhanced version which has three short video clips. One of these is a guitar duet with Romane on the other guitar and I often watch it when I need a bit of playing inspiration – it is fantastic (the file on the CD is effort.mpg).