A brief biography of Jimmy Rosenberg


Still very young, Jimmy Rosenberg is obviously one of the most formidable weavers of musical dreams.

A chronology:

1980 | A boy is born
Born Joseph Rosenberg, Jimmy Rosenberg comes from a Sinti (Gypsy) family and was born 10th. April 1980 in Helmond, in the southern region of The Netherlands. He is a son of Engelina (Papi) Weisz and Franco (Macky) Rosenberg, and a cousin of Nonnie, Nous’che and Stochelo Rosenberg, members of the renowned Rosenberg Trio.

gipsy kids

(photo) with Gipsy Kids 1990

1987 | Seven years
At seven, Jimmy switches from violin, to playing guitar and learns furiously fast.

1989 | Nine years old
Jimmy made his debut outside the Gypsy world as early as 1989 at the age of nine years in John Jeremy’s British television documentary Django Legacy. In this documentary, Jimmy appears with the trio named The Gipsy Kids, with Falko Reinhardt and Sani van Mullum.

1991 | Eleven years old
In 1991 Jimmy appeared for the first time on Dutch television, and he played at the Django Reinhardt Festival in Samois sur Seine, France. He also plays a duet with Stéphane Grappelli in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. It became clear that Jimmy was a world phenomena, playing with the greatest living musicians in the genre as their equal.

1992 | At the age of twelve
In 1992 The Gipsy Kids did their first CD recording, entitled Safari, in June/July in Studio 88 in Hilversum in the Netherlands.

1993 | Thirteen
In 1993 Jimmy played at the Django Festivals in Oslo in Norway, and again in Samois sur Seine. He did his first recordings with Hot Club de Norvège, in other words, for Hot Club Records, entitled Jimmy’s Suite. Jimmy did concerts with Biréli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Philip Catherine and many others.

gipsy kids 1991

(photo) with Gipsy Kids 1991

jimmy rosenberg jon larsen

(photo) with Jon Larsen 1994

1994 | Fourteen years old
Jimmy’s Suite is released on Hot Club de Norvège CD Swinging with Jimmy Rosenberg. In 1994 there were television performances in The Netherlands and Belgium. A Japanese documentary was made by TBS-TV. A contract was offered for The Gipsy Kids on Angel/Emi (USA).

1995 | Fifteen years old
A first USA tour with The Gipsy Kids in 1995.

1996 | At sixteen
In 1996 Jimmy formed a trio with Johnny and Rinus Steinbach and the name was Sinti. In April they are in the USA. A record contract was offered by Sony (Colombia Tristar) USA. Their first CD entitled Sinti is out April 29th 1996. They also do recordings for Hot Club de Norvège, a CD with Babik Reinhardt and Romane entitled Hot Shots.

1997 | Seventeen years old
In 1997 Jimmy continues on his own. A recording is done in Paris in December with Hot Club Records, for the about a year later released CD Jimmy Rosenberg Featuring Biréli Lagrène & Angelo Debarre.

1998 | Eighteenth birthday
In 1998 Jimmy tours Norway in spring, and Sweden in the autumn. In December Jimmy had a big success in Carnegie Hall, New York. Jimmy plays with Les Paul, George Benson, Frank Vignola. Jimmy’s father Macky gets convicted and goes to jail.

1999 | At nineteen
In 1999 Jimmy goes on a solo tour in the USA, and does concerts in The Netherlands with the Hot Club de Norvège. Hot Club Records Presents CD Jimmy Rosenberg Featuring Biréli Lagrène & Angelo Debarre.

2000 | Twenty years
Another version of the Jimmy Rosenberg Featuring Biréli Lagrène & Angelo Debarre recording was done with Hot Club Records, entitled The one and only. In 2000 Jimmy is touring in February in Norway and The Netherlands with the Hot Club de Norvège.
He does a recording with Hot Club de Norvége and the just 18 years old violinist Ola Kvernberg for a another CD.

He returns to the USA and has another big success in Carnegie Hall. Jimmy is one of the star attractions at the first ever US Django Relnhardt Festival. He is hosted by the legendary Jazz Club Birdland, performs a solo set and shares the stage with the late Babik Reinhardt (Django’s only son) and fellow guitar prodigy Biréli Lagrène, whom collectively sold out all 8 shows. Another contract was offered by Sony Classics (USA).

2001 | Twenty-one years old
In 2001 a Hot Club Records compilation was done with Jon Larsen, entitled Swinging with Vertavo, Angelo & Jimmy.

jimmy rosenberg brandtcafe

(photo) Brandt Café in Sweden 2002, with Andreas Öberg, by Kakizaki & Max Brandt

macky rosenberg

(photo) Jimmy and his father Macky 2006

2002 | At Twenty-two
In 2002 a recording was done for Hot Club Records with Andreas Öberg, entitled Django’s Tiger. In December 2002 Jimmy Rosenberg was invited by Hot Club de Suede to play a concert at Max Brandt’s Café in Torshälla, outside Stockholm.

2003 | Twenty-three years old
Jimmy’s December 2002 jam session from Torshälla was recorded live and with no overdubs presented on Hot Club de Suede CD With Jimmy Rosenberg.

2004 | Twenty-four years old
In 2004 Jimmy plays at the Django Festival in Oslo, followed by a month of touring with the Hot Club de Norvège. A recording was done for Hot Club Records label with Svein Aarbostad, and released as the Jimmy Rosenberg CD entitled Trio. Also recordings are done for Hot Club Records, with Stian Carstensen. Jeroen Berkvens starts recording a documentary about Jimmy’s talent.

2005 | At twenty-five
Hot Club Recordings released the CD Rose Room with Jimmy playing on his Dell’Arte guitar and Stian Carstensen. Also, the CD Swinging with Jimmy is rereleased, containing both new material recorded in 2004 as the original material from the in 1993, at age thirthteen, recorded Jimmy’s Suite. His father is released from jail after eight years.

2006 | Twenty-six
In spring 2006, several recordings appear on this years edition in a series of collections by Hot Club Records called Django Festival 4 with Dutch and international musicians from the Gypsy Jazz genre. His father is released from jail after eight years, this year. Documentary by Jeroen Berkvens Jimmy Rosenberg, the Father, the Son and the Talent is finished after two years of following Jimmy. On November 26th the documentary is presented at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam.

2007 | Twenty-seven years old
In March the cinema premiere of Jeroen Berkvens documentary takes place at Paradiso Amsterdam, after which Jimmy Rosenberg and Friends perform live on stage. June, the documentary Jimmy Rosenberg, the Father, the Son and the Talent wins two Golden Horn awards at 47th Krakow Film Festival in Poland for Best (Long) Documentary for Jeroen Berkvens, and Ton Peters, Director of Cinematography. In July, the documentary is released on DVD. In Oktober the documentary also wins an Dutch Gouden Kalf award (Best (Long) Documentary for Jeroen Berkvens).

Future concerts are planned and registrations of this years performances are made into two DVD’s, the first in cooperation with Anthony Williams has been released in December this year as Jimmy Rosenberg is Back, with live material from the Paradiso premiere and some additional bonus material from a second camera shoot of a day in May 2006 with documentary maker Jeroen Berkvens. Near the end of the year booking agency Entertainment-NL proudly begins presenting concerts for Jimmy and has him play in Ahoy alongside the well-known Dutch performer Gerard Joling.

2008 | Turning 28
January starts with the release of the DVD Jimmy Rosenberg Live at the Bimhuis on the 16th, with the uncut material from the concert in the famous Dutch Jazz Club which completely sold out last summer. Meanwhile the inspiring young musician performs at random and plays gigs with friends in small venues in Amsterdam, like Het Perron and Kapitein Zeppos with just a few days notice.

2009 | Late twenties
Jimmy takes time to think things over.

2010 | Thirty
At the end of January, in the year Django Reinhardt would have turned a 100 years old, Jimmy starts to form a collective of musicians.

jerpen berkvens jimmy rosenberg

(photo NFTVM) Jeroen Berkvens 2007

Tales from Others

john larsen tale

Modern DNA analysis has shed light upon an ancient mystery. When a tiny group of refugees in the Indian province of Rajasthan began wandering westward almost a thousand years ago, they became, unbeknownst to themselves, the origin of the Gypsies. While the rest of the world has passed through ten centuries at a pace of 24 hours a day, the Gypsies have in a singular fashion held intact their distinctiveness and foundation – like a nomadic time-bubble, through time and space.

Jimmy appeared with the trio named The Gipsy Kids. Later, after receiving a surly telephone call from The Gypsy Kings, they were obliged to change their name to Sinti.

At the Django Festival in Oslo on January 1993, three super guitarists met for the first time: Jimmy Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre and Biréli Lagrène -a diabolic constellation-! Biréli played immediately following Jimmy and Angelo and he gave a fantastic solo concert. Suddenly he interrupted himself and laughing into the microphone admitted that he was having difficulties concentrating, as Jimmy had made such a strong impression on him. “I did the same things at that age .. but Jimmy does it better!”

Jimmy, Biréli and Angelo have, each in their own fashion, distinguished themselves as three of the most prominent musical innovators within Gypsy Swing and all three appear to violate the laws of nature in terms of what it is physically possible to execute on a guitar. The question was whether it would be possible to talk them into a rendezvous in the studio? The meeting came about in a highly spontaneous fashion, in the course of a week-end before Christmas in the tiny studio Sysmo in Paris. Under the direction of the brilliant guitarist Pascal de Loutchek, we were able to immortalize a jam session of pyrotechnic dimensions. Most of the music was recorded on the first take, with all of its raw energy in place.

Jimmy made his mark as a notable guitarist early. At the age of 13 he had already played with all of the greats, from Jo Privat and Philip Catherine to Stéphane Grappelli himself. At the same time he did his first recording for Hot Club Records, the incredible Jimmy’s Suite -all thanks to the passionate Hans Meelen, who has done so much for the Gypsy Swing music.

thanks to Jon Larsen

On New Years Day 2006 the telephone rang at home, and it was Jimmy Rosenberg calling. We had not spoken together for years, and it was good to hear from him. He had heard that I was putting together a music film for television, and asked if he could play. We agreed that he would do two tunes on the series, but he needed the payment in advance.

I couldn’t do that and a few days later he went to jail for not paying an overdue fine. He called us several times from jail, and we went to see him when it was allowed. On a particularly snowy morning in the south of Holland, whilst attempting to visit Jimmy in jail, we bumped into two guys who were there to see him as well. They turned out to be making a film documentary of the recent past life of Jimmy, and we fell into line with their production, filming Jimmy coming out of jail, and the hectic few months that followed 16h May 2006.

We had already become too emotionally involved to drop the idea of helping him, and it has been difficult for all of us who love Jimmy, some of the time, but the release of this privately produced DVD entitled Jimmy Rosenberg is Back, is the first time in Jimmys life, that he has ownership of his work, and therefore will benefit personally from its sucess amongst his fans and friends.

The film documentary begins with Jimmy playing a composition entitled “Improvisation No.1” by Django Reinhardt, which is fiercely technical, and can only be played by a few guitarists in the world today. Jimmy played it after not touching a guitar for five months, and he played it perfectly. The tune now features as Jimmys closing solo piece at his concerts, and sets Jimmy aside as one of the all time greatest guitarists, regardless of musical genre.

The award winning documentary film about Jimmys recent life entitled “Jimmy Rosenberg, The Father, the Son & the Talent” was premiered on 26th November 2006, and went on general release on 5th of March 2007 in Paradiso. The film company wanted Jimmy to play at the premiere of the film, and Jimmy obtained exclusive rights to film the concert.

It is that concert, at the film premiere in Paradiso, that we have pleasure in presenting to you, and we hope that you will enjoy the film, and pass Jimmys message around the world.

thanks to Anthony Williams