Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Django Reinhardt - Incredible Guitarist

I've heard of Django Reinhardt for many years and occasionally enjoyed one of his virtuosic pieces on KCSM - the Jazz Station, but it wasn't until last weekend that I actually acquired a recording of his. I found a Verve compilation in the bargain bin for just $7.99 with 16 tracks on it recorded from the late 1930's to 1953--the year he died.

Reinhardt, of Romany (gypsy) stock, grew up in a caravan, and suffered a tragic but ultimately non-career threatening injury to his left hand in a fire when he was young. Somehow, even with this liability, his guitar work is filled with musicality, energy, well-- verve! His later work on the electric guitar, which I heard yesterday on Night and Day, sounds a lot like later Jazz artists while the earlier stuff has more of an acoustic tone. He's often heard with the equally virtuosic Stephane Grapelli on violin.

It's especially fun to shuffle the iPod and have Django's work pop up between other things. It makes it even more apparent how incredible he was. Many famous guitarists and other instrumentalists claim influence from him.

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