Christian Escoudé (born 1947 in Angoulême, Charente, France) is a French Gypsy jazz guitarist. He grew up in Angoulême and is of Romani descent on his father's side. His father was also a guitarist, influenced by Django Reinhardt. Escoudé became a professional musician at 15 and started work in a trio with Aldo Romano in 1972. By the 1980s, he was in John Lewis's quartet. He also played with Philip Catherine for a time. In his forties, he signed for the French division of Verve Records.
Escoudé was born in 1947 and grew up in Angoulême. His father was a guitarist and fan of Django Reinhardt who taught his son to play guitar at the age of 10. Christian Escoudé became a professional musician at 15.
At the Jazz Inn, which he first played in 1972, he met the trio of Eddy Louiss, Bernard Lubat and Aldo Romano. Later, he joined Didier Levallet's Swing String System and the Michel Portal Unit. In 1976, l'Académie du Jazz awarded him the Prix Django Reinhardt. He then formed a new quartet with Michel Graillier, Aldo Romano, and Alby Cullaz, the latter soon replaced by Jean-François Jenny-Clark. He also worked with Michel Portal or Slide Hampton, Martial Solal and Jean-Claude Fohrenbach.
In 1978, he performed at the Festival de Nice with John Lewis, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard, Philly Joe Jones, Lee Konitz, and Shelly Manne. The same year, he began a tradition of participating in the annual Festival de Samois, a tribute to Reinhardt. He performed in the Festival de Dakar in 1979 with the trio of René Urtreger, Pierre Michelot, and Daniel Humair.
Escoudé toured in a duo with guitarist John McLaughlin during 1980. The following year he joined the big band of Martial Solal and in 1982 performed in a quartet with Shelly Manne. In 1983, he played in duo again, this time with Didier Lockwood. Soon after, they added Philip Catherine. Escoudé formed the Trio Gitan with Boulou Ferré and Babik Reinhardt, Django's son. Then he played in quartet in 1988 with Jean-Michel Pilc, François Moutin and Louis Moutin. In 1989, he created an octet, half of them guitarists: Paul Challain Ferret, Jimmy Gourley, Frédéric Sylvestre, and himself. The rest of the octet consisted of Marcel Azzola on accordion, Vincent Courtois on cello, Alby Cullaz on bass, and Billy Hart on drums.
In 1990, Escoudé played at the Village Vanguard in New York City with Pierre Michelot, Hank Jones, and Kenny Washington. The following year he recorded an album of compositions by Django Reinhardt while supported by a string orchestra. In 1998 he recorded A Suite for Gypsies, a jazz fusion album. On the fiftieth anniversary of Reinhardt's death in 2003, he formed a big band of seventeen musicians.
In 2004 Escoudé organized the New Gypsy Trio with David Reinhardt (another relative of Django) and Martin Taylor (or Jean-Baptiste Laya). The next year, he released the album Ma Ya. He formed his Progressive Sextet with Marcel Azzola, Jean-Baptiste Laya, Sylvain Guillaume, Jean-Marc Jafet, and Yoann Serra.
In 2012, he released the album Christian Escoudé Plays Brassens: Au Bois de Mon Coeur, a tribute to French poet and musician George Brassens. Escoudé plays the compositions of Brassens with bassist Pierre Boussanuet and drummer Anne Paceo, with guests violinist Fiona Monbet, clarinetist Andre Villeger, Gypsy jazz guitarist Biréli Lagrène and 11-year-old Gypsy guitarist Swan Berger.
When he was 15, Escoudé began to develop his musical style, a mix of bebop and gypsy jazz influences, featuring the use of vibrato, portamento, and fast runs.
- 1979 Gitane (All Life)
- 1979 Duo (Dreyfus)
- 1981 Gipsy's Morning (JMS)
- 1989 Gipsy Waltz (EmArcy)
- 1991 Plays Django (Phono) (Japan)
- 1995 Cookin' in Hell's Kitchen (Polygram)
- 1996 Christian Escoude Group Featuring Toots Thielemans (JMS)
- 1998 A Suite for Gypsies (EmArcy)
- 2007 In L.A. Standards, Vol. 1 (Universal)
- 2004 Swing Strings (Frémeaux)
- 2006 Charentes (Elabeth)
- 2006 Progressive Sextet (Nocturne)
- 2006 Live at Duc des Lombards (Universal)
- 2007 Holidays (EmArcy)
- 2012 Joue Brassens: Au Bois De Mon Coeur (Sunnyside)