Django Reinhardt

Posted: May 7, 2008 in Uncategorized
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Jean-Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt (January 23, 1910 – May 16, 1953) was a Belgian Sinto Gypsy jazz guitarist. He was one of the first prominent jazz musicians to be born in Europe, and one of the most renowned jazz guitarists of all time. His most renowned works include “My Sweet”, “Minor Swing”, “Tears”, “Belleville”, “Djangology” and “Nuages” (French, meaning “Clouds”).
At the age of 18 Reinhardt was injured in a fire that ravaged the caravan he shared with Bella, his first wife. They were very poor, and to supplement their income Bella made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper. Consequently, their home was full of this highly flammable material. Returning from a performance late one night, Django apparently knocked over a candle on his way to bed. While his family and neighbors were quick to pull him to safety, he received first- and second-degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralyzed and the third and fourth fingers of his left hand were badly burnt. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again and intended to amputate one of his legs. Reinhardt refused to have the surgery and left the hospital after a short time; he was able to walk within a year with the aid of a cane.
His brother Joseph Reinhardt, an accomplished guitarist himself, bought Django a new guitar. With painful rehabilitation and practice Django relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralyzed. Hence, he played all of his guitar solos with only two fingers, and managed to use the two injured digits only for chord work.

J’Attendrai’. (I’ll wait for you)
With the Hot Club de France including Stephane Grappelli.

Actual video (or film as it used be called) of Django is hard to find. Although this clip from 1945 is short it is also sweet.

Nowadays they have festivals as tribute to the greatest guitar player of all time.
Django Reinhardt New York City Festival – Dark Eyes
Live at Birdland on Nov. 10, 2005
Personnel: Dorado Schmitt, Angelo Debarre, Ludovic Beier, Pierre Blanchard, Brian Torff, Samson Schmitt, Gordon Lane, Lew Tabackin, Roger Kellaway, David Langlois

Django’s music lives on and is used frequently in evocative situations such as this …..
From Artnet
This is Part III of a 3-part series of visual Artist Eugene J. Martin pen and ink and graphite pencil drawings, dating from 1985 – 1988. They express tender and sensual evocations of love. Works of art created in Washington DC, filmed in Lafayette, Louisiana (LA). Video clip montage by S. Fredericq.
“The Man I love”, music written by George and Ira Gershwin, Django Reinhardt (guitar) and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France: Stéphane Grappelli (piano), Joseph Reinhardt, Eugène Vées (guitar), Emmanuel Soudieux (bass), 1939, London.
“Night and Day”, music written by Cole Porter, Django Reinhardt et ses Rythmes: Maurice Vander (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass), Jean-Louis Viale (drums), 1953, Paris.
Django Reinhardt, Jazz Masters 38, Verve Records.

And finally for today something from an old movie. A clip from the film ‘La Route Du Bonheur’ featuring Django Reinhardt in 1952. The boy on his left is said to be his son.

  1. Fern says:

    Great set of video clips. Especially like the one with the Eugene J. Martin drawings. Great idea.

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