Friday, January 23, 2015

Django Reinhardt: "...Among The Few Great Inimitables Of Our Music..."

Andres Segovia, Wes Montgomery, B.B. King, and Jimi Hendix. All masters at the guitar. And then there is Django Reinhardt. He was a poor Belgian gypsy who as a young man played the guitar. When a trailer fire left him with a severely injured hand, he developed a new fingering style to compensate. It was a unique sound. In the early '30s he met the violinist, Stephane Grappelli, an equally free spirit in the early days of jazz. They would go on to form the "Quintette du Hot Club de France" and make music - and music history for the next twenty years. 

Django Reinhardt, New York, 1946

Reinhardt died in 1953 at the age of 43, but his impact has lived on for decades. Even today, almost every celebrity guitarist in the world of popular music, jazz, blues and rock and roll would acknowledge Reinhardt as an influence in their music. Here is an entertaining musical link to an NPR Jazz Live blog expanding on Reinhardt's legacy. We commemorate his birthday today (in 1910) with this documentary excerpt:

We'll be writing more about Reinhardt's friend and co-founder of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, Stephane Grappelli, in a few days.  

The title quote by Duke Ellington appears in his autobiography, Music is My Mistress (1976). 

Photo credit: William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress

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