So how did Django Reinhardt became regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th-century? For the uninitiated, he created a genre in Jazz known as Gypsy Jazz. In itself, Gypsy music has a rhythmic and lively style. It has an original musical scale. You can imagine why it is compatible with Jazz. These two have opposite geographical origins, yet they found new expression through the hands of Reinhardt.
To appreciate the genius of Reinhardt is to hear him. His prancing and stomping guitar strumming is evocative of a bygone era, yet with the freshness and timelessness that is common with Jazz music. Hearing him is therapeutic because his music makes you forget your present woes. You just let the rhythm and melodies take you away.
Django Reinhardt: The Legendary Guitarist
Every legendary figure has a story to tell. It is often about the rise to success from impossible odds. Reinhardt’s life was so much so. Born from a Gypsy community, he studied music at an early age. Thus, this was after he received a banjo guitar as a gift at 12. Django taught himself to play that distinctive style. He also listened to American Jazz artists like Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawking, and Benny Carter. He got married to another Romani woman at the age of 17.
An accidental trailer fire injured his left hand. Hence, this did not stop him from playing music. It was said that the injury led to his style because he had to play with what’s left with his fingers. During the Nazi occupation, he joined the concentration camps along with other Gypsies. He survived the ordeal and continued to perform and record music with other musicians, including another legendary Gypsy musician, the violinist Stephane Grappelli.
His Influence In Jazz
He is one of the essential figures in European Jazz. Chet Atkins, who is one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, cites him as an influence. His influence found its way into the body of work of such diverse artists like The Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, and Paul McCartney. Thus, Woody Allen made a character in a movie based on him. He even appeared as a character in a fictional novel by Mitch Albom.
Django Reinhardt: Notable Recordings
His recordings go back to the 30s. Monsieur Guitare is one of his albums that’s regarded as the definitive music of the genre. It is a fusion of Gypsy music and Jazz recorded with a solo guitar. Djangology: Solo & Duet Recordings got its major release this year. Thus, this is a perfect introduction to his music, especially for those who are new to Gypsy Jazz. This album is also a testament as to why he had such a massive influence in early Jazz music.
Undying Influence On Current Artists
Young Jazz artists know Reinhardt, and they want to emulate his passion and style. There is also an annual festival of his music in France. Thanks to compilation albums, his popularity never seems to wane. He continues to influence jazz guitarists. With the explosion of vinyl records, people are looking for his old albums as great collectibles. He is also popular in various streaming sites.
You don’t have to understand what Gypsy Jazz is to appreciate the music of Django Reinhardt. His guitar style says it all. His optimism is all over his music. Just think about it, he survived hand injury, and even the Nazi concentration camps to continue writing, recording, and performing music. To appreciate him is to appreciate the power of human will amid hardships and sufferings.