WESTERLY — I remember the first time I heard the music of Django Reinhardt. My older sister, Susan, who introduced me to everyone from Nina Simone and Bob Dylan to Joan Baez and Yip Harburg (to name a few) shared the magic of his music with me one long ago day on Nantucket. I remember it as vividily as if it happened last week. You never forget the first time you’re introduced to something spectacular after all.
It was a foggy day (as many Nantucket days can be) but when Susan put on Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli playing “It’s Only a Paper Moon” the sun came out to stay.
Fellow jazz guitar fans will have the chance to hear some Django songs Saturday night when Gypsy jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel heads to the Knickerbocker Music Center with a musician whose name will ring a bell.
Thor Jensen, who spent years as lead guitarist for the band, Quiet Life, will join Wrembel Saturday night at the Knick along with Ari Folman Cohen on bass and Nick Anderson on drums when The Stephane Wrembel Band takes the main stage.
Jensen, who lived in Pawcatuck until 2015 when he moved to Brooklyn, was invited to join Wrembel soon after. He’s been part of the band ever since and has performed around the world, from the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to the Django A Gogo festival at Carnegie Hall.
“This is a killer band,” Jensen told me via email Tuesday, “It’s definitely going to be an exciting show.”
For fans of jazz guitar, Wrembel and his music too will be familiar. Wrembel, who learned to play music from the Gypsies — he spent time at their campsites in the French countryside — has been called “simply one of the finest guitar players in the world” and “the living face of Gypsy jazz.” His “Bistro Fada” captivated movie and music lovers a few years back in “Midnight In Paris,” and The Gitane guitar company has even named a model after him.
Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau — the home of Impressionism and Django Reinhardt, Wrembel first studied classical piano, at the age of four.
“My teacher played with many renowned musicians,” Wremble writes in a musician’s statement. “She was very old school but she taught me how to interpret and how to make a phrase from beginning to end. My entire classical training from ages four to 16 was about how to interpret.”
In his mid-teens, he said, he discovered he had an affinity for guitar.
“I started practicing very intensely,” he said. “I was a big Pink Floyd fan; that remains my favorite music.”
Wrembel spent hours learning David Gilmour’s style. When he was 17, he decided to become a professional musician.
“I knew I had to practice 18 hours a day, and after I got my high school diploma I decided that was what I was going to do,” he said. “I had a classical background, a passion for rock music, and then I found out about Django. I fell in love with the very strong impressionist feel in his music.”
Known for the breadth and range of his playing and for compositions that are unmatched, Wrembel has been releasing a steady stream of music since 2006. Last year, he and his band began promoting two new recordings on Water Is Life Records, “The Django Experiment I and II.”
Both albums feature the band’s interpretation of the songs Reinhardt, as well as Wrembel’s original compositions, and those of other writers of the same vein of music.
The Django Experiment I and II were released in conjunction with the Wrembel-produced Django A Gogo concert held at Carnegie Hall last year. The event received rave reviews and included guitar masters Al Di Meola, Larry Keel, Stochelo Rosenberg and other gifted musicians all celebrating the music of Django Reinhardt.
The Django Experiment III was released earlier this month.
The show is being presented in conjunction with Westerly Sound, a project being developed by Sean Spellman, one of the organizers of the Folk Concerts in Wilcox Park.
For tickets, which are $15 apiece, visit knickmusic.com. Show starts at 8 p.m.