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Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt was the first hugely influential jazz figure to emerge from Europe -- and he remains the most influential European to this day, with possible competition from Joe Zawinul, George Shearing, John McLaughlin, his old cohort Stephane Grappelli and a bare handful of others. A free-spirited gypsy, Reinhardt wasn't the most reliable person in the world, frequently wandering off into the countryside on a whim. Yet Reinhardt came up with a unique way of propelling the humble acoustic guitar into the front line of a jazz combo in the days before amplification became widespread. He would spin joyous, arcing, marvelously inflected solos above the thrumming base of two rhythm guitars and a bass, with Grappelli's elegantly gliding violin serving as the perfect foil. His harmonic concepts were startling for their time -- making a direct impression upon Charlie Christian and Les Paul, among others -- and he was an energizing rhythm guitarist behind Grappelli, pushing their groups into a higher gear. Not only did Reinhardt put his stamp upon jazz, his string band music also had an impact upon the parallel development of Western swing, which eventually fed into the wellspring of what is now called country music. Although he could not read music, with Grappelli and on his own, Reinhardt composed several winsome, highly original tunes like "Daphne," "Nuages" and "Manoir de Mes Reves," as well as mad swingers like "Minor Swing" and the ode to his record label of the '30s, "Stomping at Decca." As the late Ralph Gleason said about Django's recordings, "They were European and they were French and they were still jazz."

A violinist first and a guitarist later, Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt grew up in a gypsy camp near Paris where he absorbed the gypsy strain into his music. A disastrous caravan fire in 1928 badly burned his left hand, depriving him of the use of the fourth and fifth fingers, but the resourceful Reinhardt figured out a novel fingering system to get around the problem that probably accounts for some of the originality of his style. According to one story, during his recovery period, Reinhardt was introduced to American jazz when he found a 78 RPM disc of Louis Armstrong's "Dallas Blues" at an Orleans flea market. He then resumed his career playing in Parisian cafes until one day in 1934 when Hot Club chief Pierre Nourry proposed the idea of an all-string band to Reinhardt and Grappelli. Thus was born the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which quickly became an international draw thanks to a long, splendid series of Ultraphone, Decca and HMV recordings.

The outbreak of war in 1939 broke up the Quintette, with Grappelli remaining in London where the group was playing and Reinhardt returning to France. During the war years, he led a big band, another quintet with clarinetist Hubert Rostaing in place of Grappelli, and after the liberation of Paris, recorded with such visiting American jazzmen as Mel Powell, Peanuts Hucko and Ray McKinley. In 1946, Reinhardt took up the electric guitar and toured America as a soloist with the Duke Ellington band but his appearances were poorly received. Some of his recordings on electric guitar late in his life are bop escapades where his playing sounds frantic and jagged, a world apart from the jubilant swing of old. However, starting in Jan. 1946, Reinhardt and Grappelli held several sporadic reunions where the bop influences are more subtly integrated into the old, still-fizzing swing format. In the 1950s, Reinhardt became more reclusive, remaining in Europe, playing and recording now and then until his death from a stroke in 1953. His Hot Club recordings from the `30s are his most irresistible legacy; their spirit and sound can be felt in current groups like Holland's Rosenberg Trio. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

My ear discovered Django 35 or so years ago and I was floored by Stephane and then Joe Venuti....go t a violin and it's been a musical life since...stud i e d and am still studying and playing music...got a jazz violin gig tonight thanks to these guys ad powers yet to be explained.
Listening to Souvenirs - guitar greatness. Beautiful playing throughout. Django was the man!
jeremy, you're thinking of emmett ray, the fictional protagonist of woody allen's mockumentary sweet and lowdown
Anybody remember the name of that other great jazz guitarist? He's one who idolized Django. He had a very brief career and only recorded something like 12 songs... all amazing. There's a movie about him that I also can't remember the name of. In the movie he would get drunk and shoot rats at the train track and he dated a mute girl
lauralovesth e a r t s
I believe he is the Kwisatz Haderach
Beautiful... He was the first jazz artist I listened to and now it's an addiction. So amazing!
C'est formidable! Manifique! Le Jazz Hot!
Listen this guy 3 fingers up at least for him.
family.johns t o n 1
Two thumbs up, pure gold
bobnox2
My father, a combat soldier in WWII, was in Paris in 1945 recouperatin g from wounds. An avid music lover, he would routinely sneek out of his hospital at night & hobble around the streets of Paris visiting the many clubs and cafes. When, as a young man, I thought I would demonstrate my erudition and introduce him to my new discovery, Django & the Hot Club, he said....Oh, yeah... I saw them in Paris. That three fingered sum'b**ch sure could play a guitar! Now, I can't listen to Django without th
This is truly unique and full music , there's a story to be told in tones a must hear
aruela2
Oh! to have lived in that era; the era of true good music. No artist of today can even come close to the music of Django, Grappelli, Paul, the Goodmans, etc. Today's musicians can only wish they were as good.
DJANGO, TRULY THE GREATEST JAZZ OFFICIANADO OF ALL TIME
I really do have a love for french style jazz thanks to Django Reinhardt.
THEE Master!!!!!!
Guitar bliss!
Django was just brilliant on the guitar. I've often wondered how much more he could have given had he full use of his hand. Of course I then realize it doesn't matter - the greatest power of his music lies not in his technique (staggering) but in his soul. That is what ultimately drives the greatest music & musicians and is what touches us. It is what unites the greats - Django, Jimi, Pops, Bird, etc.
robert.kesik
Great song, I remeber it from a game Mafia. It was usually playing thru the game when driving around the city :>
kevinalinley
Beautiful Bio. Who can say they know a gypsy nowadays? Sounds like a party to me!!!!
his music reminds of of some old cartoons :)
guyt20
Is it just me, or did this guy like to smoke? By the cover of two of his albums.....
Over the years, many players have duplicated his style (and, possibly, even surpassed it). But, there are indescribabl e elements to Django's playing that, in my humble opinion, place him in an otherworldly catagory (much the same feeling I get when listening to Jimi Hendrix). I concur with cdexrun8: how amazing it would've been to see him play live - Django lives!
cclnptl
stephane wrembel, definitely worth a listen to
cdexrun8
His music has been an inspiration to me. I only wish I been born 40 years earlier so I could have him and Stephan play together live..
Reinhardt was Sinti-Romani , and using a racist term like free-spirite d gypsy to describe a person's ethnicity is absurd, and promotes romantic and pejorative stereotypes about the Romani people. Romanies are still discriminate d against on a global scale, and respectfully (and accurarely) describing our ethnicity helps to educate people about who Romanies really are-- people.
luis.manolsa n
Hear Les Paul Comment...

http://www.y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = M - q W g N g W D e 4 & l i s t = F L W l N L O C e g Z w k Q L T I h J v - I X A & i n d e x = 3 & f e a t u r e = p l p p _ v i d e o
There's a biography on him that came out a few years ago. Excellent read - his life is wilder than any fictionalize d account could possibly be and his life would make one hell of a movie (hint hint).
karlahellerm a n n
if you like Django, must check out Lulo www.lulo-rei n h a r d t - p r o j e c t . d e
geomaura
Django played banjo before guitar...the r e are numerous recordings of it.
Not bad for a guy with a couple of fingers missing !!! Love Django.
jimbonk3
my table. I requested a Djanjo/Grapp e l l i favorite and the music group grinned from ear to ear. The whole place lite up like a Christmas Tree from that moment on. Loved it. My wife tried to kill me. I still love her at times.
jimbonk3
About 12 years ago I was part of a VERY formal banquet in France and there was a string quintent playing very somber semi-classic a l music on stage prior to our dinner. The Prime=minist e r of Great Britian was the guest speaker. The group took a short break during our salad serving but soon came back for more. There were tables for eight in the room amounting to 300 people. The music group then started at the head table asking for requests. The same style of music played on till they got to m
Plus 1 for the Hot Club of Detroit. As a resident I have een them probably 20 times AS they tour the globe You should see them!
chuckindetro i t
NO! he was Influenced by Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti theWestern swing Players were then influenced by him,Django was moved later by Bird and Dizzy.
If you like Reinhardt his influence is heard (and possibly styled after some) western swing guitar, including some classic chops (stylings) from Chet Atkins and before that the guitars of Bob Wills and theTexas Playboys.
springrenee4
my eleven year old son is embracing this artist like a warm blanket in the evening... joy
I have always heard about the great Django Reinhardt,an d stumbled upon his music accidently.. . m y joy was like an elderly person tasting ice cream for the first time...why did I wait so long???
my oh my.....love love love
masca -- love it
The real Gypsy king!
interesting bio, like Jerry Garcia, in that neither let missing a finger or two stop them from doing what they loved. A lesson and inspiration to us all. I have to say its an interesting hybrid of gypsy folk music and jazz
I've heard and read about him cited as an influence from countless guitarists over the years, but never actually heard his music until just a couple of years ago. Now I get it.
What can one say? Django's music says it all! No one puts the feeling into his playing like Django does. Long may he live!!
Djanjo is one of the best, with Les Paul in there too. I love the Les Paul tunes and he is just the best at multiple recording in his days he was a instigator of it of course he was a Engineer. What a shame for him to get old and leave us without his great sounds, of course he will still be there on the records and I have a lot of his records. I can't seem to find the original of "Meet Mr Calahan" anywhere on the net...help.. !
sweet!
his never ending musical ideas and inventions have never been paralleled. Its not that he doesn't go way out on a limb, its that he knows how to get back and make use of all the twigs in between
thats awesome tallant
cabmaker0
check out DjangoFest to hear some of the best playing that can be found. All over the country, different locations, artists from around the world, we were at Djangofest Northwest on Whidbey Island WA 4 yaers ago and were blown away! (Try some Angelo Debarre)
only three useable fingers on his left hand??????



thedesertsin g s
Django...a master. if you like Django, try listening to Karl Farr in the earlier recordings of the Western music group The Sons of the Pioneers. Western music was -and continues to be- a child of jazz not country music.
dodgeestate
This is the best guitar player in the world(next to Les Paul). And making all that beautifull music. I'm a guitar player too, so I get that extra pleasure.
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