Saturday, January 23, 2016

Django Reinhardt: An Inimitable Master Of The Guitar

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 and beyond.

Reinhardt in New York in 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:

Andres Segovia, Wes Montgomery, B.B. King, and Jimi Hendix. All masters at the guitar. And then there is Django Reinhardt.  Here he is with the Hot Club performing a piece he wrote with Stephane Grappelli in the mid-1930's. We'll be writing more about Grappelli in a few days.


Photos and Illustrations:
William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress

Title derived from a quote by Duke Ellington appearing in his autobiography, Music is My Mistress (1976).

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