Playing guitar has been a large part of my life for 20 years. Yes I had taken some time away from it in my travels and shared my attention with other instruments including tenor saxophone and piano but I keep coming back. It is my love and it brings me much joy and therapy. Knowing the story behind Django Reinhardt, I cringe if thinking “What if this happened to me? What if I couldn’t play anymore?” I have to believe that Reinhardt had that second thought after he was partially paralyzed in his left hand and also his left leg after a fire in his home where he suffered second and third degree burns. This happened at the mere age of 18 and on the rise in the music scene in Paris and throughout Europe.
More can be read about the injuries and his life here: Django Reinhardt
But what fascinates me the most about Reinhardt is that doctors told him that he probably couldn’t play guitar again and maybe have to have his leg amputated. I couldn’t even imagine. Overcoming this tragedy is what made Reinhardt who he was, and his music into often replicated but NEVER EVER duplicated status. No one played like Django because quite frankly no one was like Django. Check it out (unfortunately no embedding which is understandable):
WATCH DJANGO REINHARDT PLAY LIVE
Yeah it’s more difficult than it looks, most if not all guitarists will tell you that. Again it comes back to soloing with mere two fingers. Skillfully Reinhardt was able to incorporate his two paralyzed fingers into chord formations, which helped but if you watch how his hand contorts and the speed it does, you see this is no easy feet at all.
When one thinks of jazz guitar, undoubtedly Django is near if no at the top of the list. He was one of the pioneers in using 7th and 6th (among many others) chords in composition and style. He influenced the likes of John Jorgenson and Tony Iommi (of Black Sabbath fame). His music has been used in many films and and his spirit played tribute to by many artists in ALL fields of art.
I’m not big into compilation albums. Not at all really, but given the time period in Europe of most of Django recordings, albums were not big…45s were. So given that fact a good compilation makes sense and this is better then good…far better. Some cuts you’ll want to pay attention to are: Minor Swing, I’ll see you in My Dreams and Manoir des Mes Reves (A.K.A. Django’s Castle) which has full horns. The arrangement on all the songs are stunning really, and very progressive for the time of the mid to late 30s and early 40s.
Take it in and enjoy! Then go and buy it…again on vinyl. Then look down at your left hand again and be thankful.
*Wow…missed the important part for next week. How about my co-publisher Shawn?
Joe Grzesik (JGrez) is an artist developer focusing online on front end development and keeping up with new techonolgies. Photography has been his most recent and strongest passion. He’s shot thousands of photos throughout the years only recently display a larger portion of his library here on Joup.