Monday, April 23, 2007

Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt
Originally uploaded by late night movie.
Born in Belgium, Django Reinhardt spent most of his youth in gypsy encampments close to Paris, playing banjo, guitar and violin from an early age professionally at Bal-musette halls in Paris. He started first on the violin and eventually moved on to a banjo-guitar that had been given to him.

Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt (January 23, 1910 – May 16, 1953) was a Belgian Sinti jazz guitarist, says Wikipedia. He was one of the first prominent jazz musicians to be born in Europe, and one of the most renowned jazz guitarists of all time.

In 1934, Louis Vola formed the "Quintette du Hot Club de France" with Reinhardt, violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Reinhardt's brother Joseph and Roger Chaput on guitar, and himself on bass.

The concept of "lead guitar" (Django) and backing "rhythm guitar" (Joseph Reinhardt) was born with that band. They also used their guitars for percussive sounds, as they had no true percussion section.

Reinhardt survived World War II unscathed, unlike many other Gypsies who perished in the concentration death camps of the Nazis. It was especially hard for Django's people because jazz itself was not allowed under Hitler's regime. He had the help of a Luftwaffe official named Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, also known as "Doktor Jazz", who deeply admired his music.

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