Two for Tuesday: Django Reinhardt (Encore Presentation)

This is a very early 2fT that I did back in February 2013. I’m running a little behind today…

Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt was born in 1910 to Manouche (French Roma) parents. He became an excellent guitar and banjo player at an early age. At eighteen, he was injured in a fire, crippling the ring and pinky fingers on his left (fret) hand. Thanks to his brother Joseph (also a great guitar player) bringing him a guitar while in the hospital, he was able to regain and even surpass his level of virtuosity, even though he was using just two fingers on his left hand to solo.

In 1934, Django formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with his brother Joseph and Joseph Chaput on rhythm guitars, violinist Stephane Grappelli, and bassist Louis Vola. They made a number of records (two of which can be heard here: 1937’s “Sheik of Araby” and 1936’s “Limehouse Blues”) now considered classics by jazz aficionados. The Quintet was on tour in England at the beginning of World War II, and Django returned to France, believing that he was better off there. He survived the Nazi persecution of the Roma, largely because a number of Nazi officers were jazz fans as well. He reformed the quintet using more traditional instruments, including Hubert Rostaing on clarinet, during the war, and reunited with Grappelli after the war. The quintet disbanded in 1948, after which he toured with Duke Ellington before retiring in 1951. He died in 1953 of a brain hemorrhage.

Django’s playing influenced many guitar players, including several featured here (notably Tommy Emmanuel and Chet Atkins), B. B. King, Carlos Santana, Les Paul, and many others. Much of his catalog was unavailable for a time, but through the magic of compact disc technology, the music of Le Quintette du Hot Club de France and of Django Reinhardt is now once again generally available.

Django Reinhardt: your Two for Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

“The Sheik of Araby”

“Limehouse Blues”

12 thoughts on “Two for Tuesday: Django Reinhardt (Encore Presentation)

  1. Love me some Django Reinhardt! Funny thing, I had no idea who he was until one of the guys in one of our really popular local bands opened a music shop called Django’s, named after Django Reinhardt. When the local entertainment paper wrote about the shop, thats what I read. I sought out songs of his to see if I’d like him, and I do. Though I haven’t heard much by him or listened in a while.

    Kim

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    1. There’s a ton of his music on YouTube and Spotify. When I first heard of him back in the ’70’s, it was nigh well impossible to find any of his records, I think because of the cost relative to the demand. With the advent of the CD, the cost to produce them dropped, plus the technology for getting the music off the 78 (since they went right to disk rather than creating a master tape) and bringing the sound quality up to modern standards got a whole lot better. For all the hype, I was surprised that the music sounded a little like the backing track to a “Little Rascals” episode, but that was jazz back in the ’30’s. He could play more notes cleanly with only two fingers and his thumb on his fret hand than just about any guitar player with a fully-functioning hand.

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    1. He influenced players that in turn influenced other players. The guitar world will continue to feel the shock waves he set off into eternity. He was that important.

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