Saturday, May 06, 2006

Django and Grappelli Red Hot

A reader requested a sample of the music of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and this clip of his famous quintet dates from about 1945, when all the voice-overs for newsreels spoke a staccato delivery as if it were the most important breaking news story of the day.

Django and violinist Stephane Grappelli created something new which remains utterly entertaining today. Django helped to create the formation of a lead guitarist backed by rhythm guitarists and bass, and Stephane's violin just dance around all the tunes. The music was often kinda bebop-ish, and a little melancholy too.

One web bio reports that he could neither read nor write, but in 1928 he was greatly injured in a fire, his right side from knee to waist were badly burned and doctors wanted to amputate his leg. Django said no, and struggled to recover. Also, his left hand was nearly useless, but during an 18-month recover, he mastered the use of the mobility of his two non-damaged fingers and created a unique style that is often imitated. Not being able to read music, he relied on improvisation, vital to modern jazz. In 1934 his Quintet of Jazz at the Hot Club in France made him world famous.

Grappelli went on after Django's death in the late 1950s, playing with the likes of Paul Simon, Jean Luc Ponty, and a he also provided some session work on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," which is nearly impossible to hear on that tune and he wasn't given album credit.

Finding CDs today is simple, look for ones that include "Limehouse Blues," "Moonglow", "I've Had My Moments," and "Nocturne".

A curious movie loaded with his music "B. Monkey" also features Asia Argento, but Django's music provides the best part of the film. The clip below is via YouTube.


  1. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Thanks, Joe.

  2. Joe, I went and listened to this last night but blogger was freaking out and couldn't post.
    This was new to me. Thanks for the enlightenment. Beautiful

  3. Joe, thanks for that bio and the amazing clip.

  4. thanks too all for the interest - and i too was amazed to learn more about how Django developed his unique sound.