Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt

The Classic Early Recordings

Music CD - 2008
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Publisher: London : JSP Records, ℗2008, ©1992
Characteristics: 5 audio discs : digital ; 4 3/4 in
audio file
CD audio
Alternative Title: Classic early recordings


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May 04, 2018

Jean Reinhardt 23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953) stage name Django Reinhardt, was a Belgian-born Romani French jazz guitarist, musician and composer, regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century. He was the first jazz talent to emerge from Europe and remains the most significant. At the age of 17 Reinhardt married Florine "Bella" Mayer, a girl from the same gypsy settlement, according to gypsy custom (although not an official marriage under French law). Before he had a chance to start with the band, however, he nearly lost his life when the caravan he and his wife lived in caught fire when he knocked over a candle. Reinhardt dragged himself and his wife through the fire to safety, but he received first- and second-degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralyzed, and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again, and they intended to amputate one of his legs. Two of his fingers remained paralyzed. By sheer will, he taught himself to overcome his now permanent handicap by using only his thumb and two fingers. The years between 1925 and 1933 were formative for Reinhardt, personally and musically. Reinhardt heard leading American jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The new sounds gave Reinhardt a vision and goal of becoming a jazz professional. From 1934 until the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, a violinist, worked together as the principal soloists of their newly formed Hot Club, in Paris. It became the most accomplished and innovative European jazz group of the period. When World War II broke out, the original quintet was on tour in the United Kingdom. Reinhardt returned to Paris at once, leaving
Grappelli in the UK for the duration of the war. Because Reinhardt and his family were Gypsies, he tried to escape from occupied France with his family. After his first attempt, he survived when a secretly jazz-loving German, Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, let him go back to France after he was captured. But still desperate to get out of France, knowing that Gypsies were being rounded up and killed in concentration camps, he tried again to cross into Switzerland a few days later, this time in the dead of night. But he was stopped by Swiss border guards who forced him to return to Paris. During the occupation of France, Reinhardt continued playing and composing. One of his songs, "Nuages," became an unofficial anthem in Paris to signify hope for liberation. Since the Nazis officially disapproved of jazz, Reinhardt tried to develop other musical directions. He tried to write a Mass for the Gypsies and a symphony. After the war, Reinhardt rejoined Grappelli in the UK. In the autumn of 1946, he made his first tour in the United States, debuting at Cleveland Music Hall as a special guest soloist with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. He played with many notable musicians and composers, such as Maury Deutsch. At the end of the tour, Reinhardt played two nights at Carnegie Hall in New York City; he received a great ovation and took six curtain calls on the first night. I first encountered Reinhardt through the new movie "Django". The film changes the facts in some ways, but captures the music and the danger of being a Gypsy in Nazi occupied Europe. His guitar music is very distinctive and features exceedingly rapid strumming in many songs. I highly recommend this early jazz artist. Kristi & Abby Tabby


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