Tuesday, May 06, 2003


It’s hard to believe that it is fifty years since the death of Gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt. His famous co-conspirator in the ‘Hot Club de Paris’ was, of course, Stephane Grappelli (link is to BBC Radio 3 interview), who lived until 1997 and made his impact on the classical world via duets with the likes of Yehudi Menuhin and Nigel Kennedy. Reinhardt’s following is growing again at the moment, and he is fortunate to have a contemporary expositor-in-chief in the form of fleet fingered virtuoso, Martin Taylor, perhaps the greatest living acoustic jazz guitarist. John Etheridge, formerly of Soft Machine, is one of a number of musicians from well outside Reinhardt’s orbit who have fallen for his charms. At a time when European jazz was seen as little more than a cheap and inferior imitation of a quintessentially American art form, Benny Goodman was another of those elder statespeople who extolled Django’s extraordinary gifts. Thankfully times have changed, and increasingly jazz is being seen as an international language, not to mention a decidedly mercurial one. Just think of Django Bates.

Francois Rousseau's extensive Django Reinhardt Documentation Centre is well worth visiting for those who wish to find out more. The Classic Jazz Guitar site has biographical notes and sound samples, as well as information on a range of other important artists. Last but not least, Garrison Keiler introduces virtuoso guitarist Jay Berliner playing John Lewis' fine tribute piece, 'Django'. Reinhardt's Django's most famous composition, 'Nuages', from the 1930s, is also featured. An ideal way to settle in for the night... thanks indeed to Eve's Magazine: A Prestigious Magazine of Writing, Music and the Arts.

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