The things you own end up owning you.

Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt – A Guitar Magician


In Music there are “Legends”, such as the “Robert Johnson’s” deal with the demon. Django Reinhardt is surely one other legend from the first half of the 20th century. Django was born in Belgium in 1910, and began to play first the violin, then the banjo and the guitar whilst residing in a “Gypsy Camp” in the outskirts of Paris during the “Interwar Years” and the first recording by him dates back to 1928, Django as a banjo player.

During the same year “Django”s caravan got completely burnt down, (Django’s first wife was selling plastic flowers in the downtown Paris for living and the caravan was full of flammable materials), leaving Django with severe burns over his body. His right leg was paralysed and making things even worse, his third and fourth fingers were also partially paralysed. Practically he was left with his first and second fingers plus his thumb to play any stringed instrument. His brother bought him a new guitar easier for him to play, and though the doctors proposed the end of this music making career, it was just beginning.

During the next year, “Django” worked hard to establish a fingering system for himself which made the speciality of his technique and no doubt uniqueness. As “Allmusic” also puts it some say that during the recovery “he was introduced to American jazz when he found a 78 RPM disc of Louis Armstrong’s”Dallas Blues” at an Orleans flea market” (1). Later with his re-loaded style, “Django” worked in Parisian circles and made a name of a velvet guitarist.

During one of this touring in Paris the legendary “Quintette of Hot Club de Paris came out. According to “REdhotjazz” to quote:

“The group started out as an informal jam session that was held between sets at the Hotel Claridge (37 Rue Francois 1er.) in Paris in 1933. Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Roger Chaput and Louis Vola were playing in the hotel dance band at the time. Between sets they would play jazz together in a backroom at the hotel. One day Pierre Nourry and Charles Delaunay of Hot Club witnessed one of these sessions and arranged that the group record it’s first records for the Ultraphone label in December of 1934” (2).

From 1934 to the outbreak of the war in Europe, the Quintette drew international renominations and also worked with DECCA and HMV Recordings. The Quintette was initially made up of “Django” as the lead guitar, Django’s brother Joseph and Roger Chaput as the acoustic rhythm guitar, Louis Vola as the bassist and Stephane Grappelli as the violinist.




Photo taken from

further reading:

Django Reinhardt; Know The Man, Play The Music, by Dave Gelly and Rod Fogg, A Backbeat Book, 2005
Django Reinhardt, by Michael Dregni, Oxford University Press, 2005
Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend, by Charles Delaunay, 1961
Stéphane Grappelli: A Biography, by Geoffrey Smith, 1987
With Only My Violin: The Memoirs of Stephane Grappelli, by Stéphane Grappelli and Jean-Marc Bramy, Welcome Rain Publishers, 2002
Stephane Grappelli: With and Without Django, by Paul Balmer, Sanctuary Publishing, Ltd., 2003

May 3, 2008 - Posted by | Music.only.good music

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: