Joseph, Joseph

And now, a longtime Gypsy jazz standard that Django himself never recorded.  Here’s what Jack Soref has to say about the tune’s title and origins:

I have seen this tune attributed to lots of different people: Chaplin and Cahn, Sholom Secunda, or just referred to as “traditional.” But the further I dig it seems clear that it was co-written by Yiddish singer Nellie Casman and her husband, playwright Samuel Steinberg in 1923. The original title was ‘Yosl Yosl’ or ‘Yosel Yosel’ or ‘Yossel Yossel’. It was written in Yiddish, so transliterations of the title are a little imprecise. On the charts, I stuck to my favorite Yiddish music historian, Henry Sapoznik’s choice (‘Yosl Yosl’) for the subtitle of the tune.

So for your listening pleasure, here’s the co-composer, Nellie Casman, singing the original version of our “Joseph, Joseph.”

“Joseph, Joseph” has a common chord progression you’ll encounter in many waltzes and other swing tunes— see, for example, the A section of “Tchavolo Swing.” It would be a good to learn to navigate it in many keys, the same way you might a Blues or Rhythm Changes. “Joseph, Joseph” is most commonly played these days among Gypsy jazzers in Amin, but there are great versions in other keys as well. For example, here’s another early take on the tune in Gmin featuring an all-star crew: Gus Viseur, Oscar Aleman and Eddie Brunner among them. (You’ll find a transcription of the clarinet solo by Eddie Bruner further down the page.)


Lead Sheets

Jack has prepared two sets of lead sheets for this song, one based on older recordings like those you hear above, and one that more closely reflects how the tune is played these days.

Here you have what he’s calling the “old-style” version:


For a more contemporary reading of the tune, check out this one from the International String Trio with Olli Soikkeli.  That’s Ben Powell on violin, and you’ll find a transcription of his solo from this performance further down the page.

Here you have lead sheets for a more contemporary take on “Joseph, Joseph.” This will be our primary reference for jamming at DiJ2017.

For Violin

Courtesy of Nataly Merezhuk, here you have a transcription of Ben Powell’s solo from the International String Trio video above (from approx. 0:37-1:31.)

Joseph Joseph – Ben Powell solo transcription

For Clarinet

Here’s Susanne Ortner’s transcription of the Eddie Brunner solo from the second video you see toward the top of this page (the one that also features Gus Viseur and Oscar Aleman.) The original was in Gmin, so we’re providing this solo in both the original key and Amin, where you’ll more likely encounter the tune this summer.

For Guitar

Emmanuel Kassimo sings and plays this tune with his group Am Ketenes in Emin. Have a listen, then enjoy the transcriptions Jack has prepared based on this performance:

Jack’s transcription below is from the first chorus Emmanuel plays in the video above (from approx. 1:01-1:28.) It is provided first in the original key of Em, then transposed to Amin. We think you’ll find the phrases transpose quite nicely and they are sure to come in handy if you learn them in both keys.

For Mandolin

In this video lesson Dave Gross walks you through the chord changes to “Joseph, Joseph,” then reveals all by showing his own solo on the tune from his CD, Mandology. Below the video you’ll find a link to a pdf prepared by Jack Soref covering the same material in written form.

Joseph Joseph – Dave Gross Mandolin lesson

Play-Along Rhythm Tracks

There are several backing tracks available for this tune on youtube. Here’s one from Harry Edwards’ website, Study Gypsy Jazz: Use an audio slow-downer to get the tempo just right for you!