So our prompt this week is “I am thankful for (blank),” where the blank is any ONE artist, solo or band. And that’s a real tough one, because there are so many artists I’m thankful for. But maybe the one that modern music owes a lot to is the incredible Gypsy guitarist, Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt, the Manouche guitarist who influenced so many others, from B. B. King to Chet Atkins and by association all the musicians ever influenced by them. Much of Django’s music was made with his group, The Quintette de Hot Club du France, that also included Stephane Grappelli, violinist extraordinaire.
What makes so much of Django’s guitar playing so amazing is that his left hand, the one that covers the frets and allows a guitarist to play the notes and chords, was badly injured in a caravan fire when he was young, fusing the ring and pinky fingers. He taught himself to play with the remaining two fingers and his thumb, adapting to his condition and creating a technique that was hard to match. I’ve shared this video a number of times here, but it shows clearly how he managed to play so well with his handicap. Here is “J’Attendrai.”
This is “Minor Swing,” the theme song for the Quintette. Or so I’ve heard.
“The Sheik of Araby”
Finally, “Nuages,” probably his best-known composition.
Years ago, I had heard that all of his music was out of print, and none was to be had anywhere. With the advent of compact disks, somehow all that great music was found. There is a ton of Django’s music out on YouTube, and if you’ve liked this sample, there’s plenty more where that came from.
I’m thankful for Django Reinhardt, Gypsy guitarist supreme. That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 21, 2016.