Django Reinhardt
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Belgian-born gypsy guitarist Jean-Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt (1910) pioneered the creative use of the guitar in jazz even before Christian. The all-strings Quintette Du Hot Club De France, formed in 1934 with French violinist Stephane Grappelli (1908), a bassist and two more guitarists, influenced by folk and classical music and inspired by Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, had little in common with the trends of American jazz. At first they revisited American standards such as Philip Braham's Limehouse Blues (october 1935) and Harry Akst's Dinah (december 1934), but then they began to work on original material in a chamber-jazz style that betrayed the influence of Debussy and Ravel (and gypsy music), not of Armstrong and Ellington: Runnin' Wild (april 1935), Djangology (september 1935), the solo Parfum (april 1937), Daphne (september 1937), Minor Swing (november 1937), Swing Guitar (june 1938), Nocturne (february 1938), Mystery Pacific (april 1937), Nuages (october 1940). Extroverted, gentle and warm, Reinhardt relied on acrobatic jazz chording and breackneck finger-picking, as far removed from the blues as a jazz musician could be.

Grappelli's violin was the perfect alter-ego to Reindhart's guitar: Grappelli's multi-layered improvisations, that left a feeling of cascading notes blowing in the wind, were graceful and aristocratic and imbued with a childish verve.

He died in 1953.

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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