Reinhardt in 1946
|Birth name||Jean Reinhardt|
23 January 1910,|
Liberchies, Pont-à-Celles, Belgium
|Died||16 May 1953
|Genres||Jazz, Gypsy jazz (also: Gypsy swing, Hot club jazz or Jazz manouche), Bebop, Romani music|
|Associated acts||Stéphane Grappelli, Quintette du Hot Club de France|
Reinhardt is regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He was the first important European jazz musician who made major contributions to the development of the guitar genre. After his third and fourth fingers were paralyzed when he suffered burns in a fire, he used only the index and middle fingers of his left hand for solos. In spite of this disability he went on to forge an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called 'hot' jazz guitar), which has since become a living musical tradition within French Gypsy culture. With the violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Reinhardt co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by the critic Thom Jurek as "one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz". Reinhardt's most popular compositions have become jazz standards, including "Minor Swing", "Daphne", "Belleville", "Djangology", "Swing '42", and "Nuages".
- 1 Biography
- 2 Family
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Influence
- 5 Reinhardt in popular culture
- 6 Discography
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Reinhardt was born on 23 January 1910 in Liberchies, Pont-à-Celles, Belgium, into a French family of Manouche Romani descent. His father was Jean Eugene Weiss but used the alias Jean-Baptiste Reinhard[verification needed] on his son's birth certificate to hide from French military conscription. His mother, Laurence Reinhardt, was a dancer. The birth certificate refers to "Jean Reinhart, son of Jean Baptiste Reinhart, artist, and Laurence Reinhart, housewife, domiciled in Paris". Reinhardt's nickname, Django, is Romani for "I awake." Reinhardt spent most of his youth in Romani encampments close to Paris, where he started playing the violin, banjo, and guitar. While living in these encampments during his youth, he became adept at stealing chickens, which was viewed as a noble skill by the Romani, because part of their means of survival on the road was to steal from the non-Gypsy world around them.  His family made cane furniture for a living. Several members of the family were keen amateur musicians.
Reinhardt was attracted to music at an early age, first playing the violin. At the age of 12 he received a banjo-guitar as a gift. He quickly learned to play, mimicking the fingerings of musicians he watched. His first known recordings, made in 1927, were of him playing the banjo and guitar. Reinhardt was able to make a living playing music by the time he was 15. He received little formal education and acquired the rudiments of literacy only in adult life.
In 1928 in Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis, Reinhardt was injured in a fire which ravaged the caravan he shared with Florine "Bella" Mayer, his first wife. They were poor, and to supplement their income Bella made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper. Returning from a performance late one night, Reinhardt apparently knocked over a candle on his way to bed, igniting these highly flammable materials. His family and neighbors were quick to pull him to safety, but he received first- and second-degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralyzed, and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again, and they intended to amputate one of his legs. Reinhardt refused to have the surgery and left the hospital after a short time; he was able to walk within a year with the aid of a cane.
His brother Joseph Reinhardt, also an accomplished guitarist, bought Django a new guitar. With rehabilitation and practice, he relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his fourth and fifth fingers remained partially paralyzed. He played all his guitar solos with only the index and middle fingers and used the two injured fingers only for chord work.
Discovery of jazz
The years between 1925 and 1933 were musically formative for Reinhardt. One development was his abandonment of the banjo in favour of the guitar. He was playing all types of music previously but began to appreciate American jazz a little during this period, when an acquaintance, Émile Savitry, played for him a number of records from his collection. Shortly afterwards Reinhardt met Stéphane Grappelli, a young violinist with similar musical interests. In the absence of paid work in their radical new music, the two would jam together, along with a loose circle of other musicians. Finally, Reinhardt acquired his first Selmer guitar in the mid-1930s. He used the volume and expressiveness of the instrument as integral elements of his style.
Formation of the quintet
In 1934, Hot Club de France secretary Pierre Nourry invited Reinhardt and Grappelli to form the Quintette du Hot Club de France, with Reinhardt's brother Joseph and Roger Chaput on guitar and Louis Vola on bass. Occasionally Chaput was replaced by Reinhardt's best friend and fellow Gypsy, Pierre "Baro" Ferret. Vocalist Freddy Taylor participated in a few songs, such as "Georgia on My Mind" and "Nagasaki". Jean Sablon was the first singer to record with Reinhardt; the pair recorded more than 30 songs starting in 1933. They also used their guitars for percussive sounds, as they had no true percussion section. The Quintette du Hot Club de France (in some of its versions at least) was one of the few well-known jazz ensembles composed only of stringed instruments.
In Paris on 14 March 1933, Reinhardt recorded two takes each of "Parce-que je vous aime" and "Si, j'aime Suzy", vocal numbers with lots of guitar fills and guitar support. He used three guitarists along with an accordion lead, violin, and bass. In August 1934, he made other recordings with more than one guitar (Joseph Reinhardt, Roger Chaput, and Django), including the first recording by the Quintette. In both years the great majority of their recordings featured a wide variety of horns, often in multiples, piano, and other instruments, but the all-string instrumentation is the one most often adopted by emulators of the Hot Club sound.
Decca Records in the United States released three records of Quintette songs with Reinhardt on guitar, and one other, lcredited to "Stephane Grappelly & His Hot 4 with Django Reinhardt", in 1935.
Reinhardt also played and recorded with many American jazz musicians, such as Adelaide Hall, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, and Rex Stewart (who later stayed in Paris). He participated in a jam session and radio performance with Louis Armstrong. Later in his career, Reinhardt played with Dizzy Gillespie in France. Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France used the Selmer Maccaferri, the first commercially available guitars with a cutaway and later with an aluminium-reinforced neck. In 1937, the American jazz singer Adelaide Hall opened a nightclub, La Grosse Pomme, in Montmartre with her husband, Bert Hicks. She sang there nightly and hired the Quintette du Hot Club de France as one of the house bands. Also in the neighbourhood was the artistic salon R-26, at which Reinhardt and Grappelli performed regularly as they developed their unique musical style.
World War II
When World War II broke out, the original quintet was on tour in the United Kingdom. Reinhardt returned to Paris at once, leaving his wife in the UK. Grappelli remained in the United Kingdom for the duration of the war. Reinhardt re-formed the quintet, with Hubert Rostaing on clarinet replacing Grappelli.
Reinhardt survived the war unscathed, unlike many Gypsies who were interned and killed in the Porajmos, the Nazi regime's systematic murder of several hundred thousand European Gypsies. Aware of the risk, he made several unsuccessful attempts to escape from occupied France with his family. He survived in part because of the protection of surreptitiously jazz-loving Germans, such as Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, nicknamed Doktor Jazz.
The Nazis officially disapproved of jazz. Reinhardt tried to develop other musical directions. He tried to write a Mass for the Gypsies and a symphony (he worked with an assistant to notate what he was improvising). His modernist piece Rhythm Futur was intended to be acceptable.
United States tour
After the war, Reinhardt rejoined Grappelli in the UK. In the autumn of 1946, he made his first tour in the United States, debuting at Cleveland Music Hall as a special guest soloist with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. He played with many notable musicians and composers, such as Maury Deutsch. At the end of the tour, Reinhardt played two nights at Carnegie Hall in New York City; he received a great ovation and took six curtain calls on the first night. Despite his pride in touring with Ellington (one of his two letters to Grappelli relates his excitement), he was not fully integrated into the band. He played a few tunes at the end of the show, backed by Ellington, with no special arrangements written for him. After the tour, Reinhardt secured an engagement at Café Society Uptown, where he played four solos a day, backed by the resident band. These performances drew large audiences.
Reinhardt was reportedly given an untuned guitar to play and took five minutes to tune it[when?][where?]. Having failed to take along a Selmer Modèle Jazz, which he had made famous, he had to play on a borrowed electric guitar, with which he was unable to express the delicacy of his style.
He had been promised some jobs in California, but they failed to develop. Tired of waiting, Reinhardt returned to France in February 1947.
After the quintet
After his return, Reinhardt became re-immersed in Gypsy life, finding it difficult to adjust to the postwar world. He sometimes showed up for scheduled concerts without a guitar or amplifier, or wandered off to the park or beach. On a few occasions he refused to get out of bed. Reinhardt developed a reputation among his band, fans, and managers as being extremely unreliable. He skipped sold-out concerts to "walk to the beach" or "smell the dew". During this period he continued to attend the R-26 artistic salon in Montmartre, improvising with his devoted collaborator, Stéphane Grappelli.
In Rome in 1949, Reinhardt recruited three Italian jazz players (on bass, piano, and snare drum) and recorded over 60 tunes in an Italian studio. He was united with Grappelli, and used his acoustic Selmer-Maccaferri. The recording was discovered in the late 1950s, when it was issued for the first time.
In 1951, Reinhardt retired to Samois-sur-Seine, near Fontainebleau, where he lived until his death. He continued to play in Paris jazz clubs and began playing electric guitar. (He often used a Selmer fitted with an electric pickup, despite his initial hesitation about the instrument.) In his final recordings, made with his Nouvelle Quintette in the last few months of his life, he had begun moving in a new musical direction, in which he assimilated the vocabulary of bebop and fused it with his own melodic style.
While walking from the Avon railway station after playing in a Paris club, he collapsed outside his house from a brain hemorrhage. It was a Saturday and it took a full day for a doctor to arrive. Reinhardt was declared dead on arrival at the hospital in Fontainebleau, at the age of 43.
Reinhardt's second son, Babik, became a guitarist in the contemporary jazz style. His first son, Lousson, was more of a traditionalist. He followed the Romani lifestyle and rarely performed in public. After Django died, his brother Joseph at first swore to abandon music, but he was persuaded to perform and record again. Joseph's son Markus Reinhardt is a violinist in the Romani style.
A third generation of direct descendants has developed as musicians: David Reinhardt, Reinhardt's grandson (by his son Babik), leads his own trio. Dallas Baumgartner, a great-grandson by Lousson, is a guitarist who travels with the Romani and keeps a low public profile.
Django had a distant relative, Schnuckenack Reinhardt, who was a violinist. Schnuckenack lived in Germany, and the two never met. Many of his descendants, such as his grandson Lulo Reinhardt, are also involved in gypsy music.
For about a decade after Reinhardt's death, interest in his musical style was minimal. In the fifties, bebop superseded swing in jazz, rock and roll took off, and electric instruments became dominant in popular music. Reinhardt's friends and sidemen, such as Baro Ferret and his brothers, continued to perform their own version of gypsy swing.
Since the mid-sixties, there has been a revival of interest in Reinhardt's music. Acoustic music was revived with the folk movement. Several of Reinhardt's near contemporaries, such as Paul "Tchan Tchou" Vidal, recorded for the first time in the sixties and seventies.
In 1973 Stéphane Grappelli formed a successful Quintette-style band with the British guitarists Diz Disley and Denny Wright. Grappelli formed many other musical partnerships, including collaborations with John Etheridge, Nigel Kennedy and David Grisman, and became very popular. He influenced other musicians, such as the Dutch violinist Tim Kliphuis.
New generations began to emerge, for instance, Jimmy and Stochelo Rosenberg, Paulus Schäfer and their relatives from the Netherlands. Another musical clan is the Reinhardt brothers and cousins from Germany, distant relatives of Reinhardt's.
Boulou Ferré, son of "Matelot" Ferret, was a child prodigy who entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 13, and studied under Olivier Messiaen. He continues to perform with his brother Elios; they can mix bebop and classical music with gypsy swing. Biréli Lagrène and Angelo Debarre were other prodigies.
Most of the abovementioned musicians are Roma who learned music by the "gypsy method", involving intense practice, direct imitation of older musicians (often family members) and playing by ear, with little formal musical study. Since the late 1970s, workshops, books and videos have become available, allowing musicians worldwide to master the style.
An early non-Roma gypsy-style guitarist was René Didi Duprat (b. 1926). Contemporary guitarists include John Jorgenson, Jon Larsen (and his Hot Club de Norvège, established in 1979), Joscho Stephan, Andreas Öberg, Frank Vignola, George Cole, Stephane Wrembel and Reynold Philipsek. Their music is sometimes jokingly referred to as "Gadjo jazz" (Gadjo is the Romani term for a non-Romani.) Young players such as Adrien Moignard and Gwenole Cahue represent the rising generation. The popularity of gypsy jazz has generated an increasing number of festivals, such as the Festival Django Reinhardt held every last weekend of June since 1983 in Samois-sur-Seine (France), the various DjangoFests held in the USA, and Django in June, an annual camp for Gypsy jazz musicians and aficionados.
Many guitar players and other musicians have expressed admiration for Reinhardt or have cited him as a major influence. Jeff Beck described Reinhardt as "by far the most astonishing guitar player ever" and "quite superhuman".
Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, both of whom lost fingers in accidents, were inspired by Reinhardt's example of becoming an accomplished guitar player despite his injuries. Garcia was quoted in June 1985 in Frets Magazine:
His technique is awesome! Even today, nobody has really come to the state that he was playing at. As good as players are, they haven’t gotten to where he is. There's a lot of guys that play fast and a lot of guys that play clean, and the guitar has come a long way as far as speed and clarity go, but nobody plays with the whole fullness of expression that Django has. I mean, the combination of incredible speed – all the speed you could possibly want – but also the thing of every note have a specific personality. You don’t hear it. I really haven’t heard it anywhere but with Django.
- Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch, members of Paul McCartney's band Wings, have mentioned him as an inspiration.
- "Django", an instrumental guitar piece by the blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, is in his honour. The piece was influenced by the violin introduction of "Vous et Moi" (Blues et Mineur, 1942, Brussels), in which Reinhardt played the violin. Vous et Moi (You and Me) was the title of Bonamassa's sixth album, on which the track first appeared in 2006. Slightly longer live versions appear on Live...from Nowhere in Particular (2009) and on DVD from his 4 May concert at Royal Albert Hall.
- "Django," composed by John Lewis, has become a jazz standard, performed by Miles Davis, among others. The Modern Jazz Quartet titled one of their albums Django in his honour.
- The Allman Brothers Band song "Jessica" was written by Dickey Betts in tribute to Reinhardt.
- Andrew Latimer, of the band Camel, has stated that he was influenced by Reinhardt.
- The composer Jon Larsen has composed several crossover concerts featuring Reinhardt-inspired music together with symphonic arrangements, the most famous being "White Night Stories" (2002) and "Vertavo" (1996).
- The Cuban composer and guitarist Leo Brouwer wrote "Variations on a Theme of Django Reinhardt" for solo guitar (1984), based on Reinhardt's "Nuages".
- In 2005, Reinhardt was ranked 66th in the list of "The Greatest Belgian" (De Grootste Belg) in Flanders and 76th in Le plus grand Belge, the Walloon version of the same competition.
- Reinhardt is celebrated annually in the village of Liberchies, his birthplace.
- Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard released the album Django and Jimmie in 2015 (the title refers to Reinhardt and the country singer Jimmie Rodgers).
- The Lost Fingers, a French Canadian gypsy jazz band, owe their name to Reinhardt.
Reinhardt in popular culture
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- Reinhardt is referred to in the opening sequence of the 2003 animated film Les Triplettes de Belleville.
- His legacy is referred to in Woody Allen's 1999 Sweet and Lowdown. This spoof biopic features a fictional American guitarist, Emmet Ray, who is obsessed with Reinhardt, with a soundtrack featuring Howard Alden.
- Reinhardt is portrayed by the guitarist John Jorgenson in the movie Head in the Clouds.
- In the movie Swing Kids, the character Arvid has his hand damaged by a member of the Hitler Jugend but is inspired by Reinhardt's example to keep playing.
- Noddy Holder of the glam rock band Slade and his wife, Suzan Price, named their son Django in honour of Reinhardt.
- Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi recounted that he suffered an industrial accident at 17 and lost the tips of two fingers. His boss played a Reinhardt record to inspire him to pursue his dream of being a guitarist.
- Reinhardt's music has been used in the soundtrack of many films, including in The Matrix, Rhythm Futur, Daltry Calhoun, Metroland, Chocolat, The Aviator, Alex and the Gypsy, Kate and Leopold and Gattaca; the score for Louis Malle's 1974 movie, Lacombe Lucien; the background for the Steve Martin movie L.A. Story; and the background for a number of Woody Allen movies, including Stardust Memories.
- Reinhardt's music has been featured in the soundtracks of several video games, such as the 2002 game Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Mafia II and in the 2007, 2010, and 2013 games BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite.
- Reinhardt's music is used in the 1978 film King of the Gypsies (film). His long-time friend Stéphane Grappelli appeared in the film in a cameo, performing as a violinist in a gypsy band.
- In the Martin Scorsese film Hugo (2011), a character who is credited as Reinhardt plays guitar in a combo in the station café. The character identified as Django is played by Emil Lager.
- "Django" (1954) is a gypsy-flavoured piece written by the jazz pianist John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet, in honour of Reinhardt. Numerous versions of the song have been recorded, including one on the 1973 album Buckingham Nicks, by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
- Saxophonist James Carter released Chasin' the Gypsy (Atlantic, 2000) in tribute to Reinhardt.
- "Tango for Django", a track on Robbie Robertson's 2011 album How to Become Clairvoyant, is a tribute.
- Reinhardt inspired Harlan Ellison's short story "Django", published in the collections Shatterday and Dreams with Sharp Teeth.
- On January 23, 2010, the French and Belgian Google home pages displayed a logo commemorating the centenary of Reinhardt's birth.
- The Django web framework is named after Reinhardt, as is version 3.1 of the blog software WordPress.
- The Belgian government issued a commemorative coin in 92.5% sterling silver in 2010 coinciding with the 100th anniversary of his birth. It is a silver 10-Euro coin with a color image of Reinhardt on the reverse side.
- Reinhardt is mentioned in the opening line of The Statler Brothers' song "Chet Atkins' Hand". The opening line is "Thank you Les Paul, thank you Django, thank you Merle".
- The movie Django Melodies, by the French filmmaker Étienne Comar, depicting Reinhardt's life during wartime will be released in 2016, with the French actor Reda Kateb performing the role of Reinhardt.
Releases in his lifetime
Reinhardt recorded over 900 sides in his recording career, from 1928 to 1953, the majority as sides of the then-prevalent 78-RPM records, with the remainder as acetates, transcription discs, private and off-air recordings (of radio broadcasts), and part of a film soundtrack. Only one session (eight tracks) from March 1953 was ever recorded specifically for album release by Norman Granz in the then-new LP format, but Reinhardt died before the album could be released. In his earliest recordings Reinhardt played banjo (or, more accurately, banjo-guitar) accompanying accordionists and singers on dances and popular tunes of the day, with no jazz content, whereas in the last recordings before his death he played amplified guitar in the bebop idiom with a pool of younger, more modern French musicians. A full chronological listing of his lifetime recorded output is available from the source cited here, and an index of individual tunes is available from the source cited here. A few fragments of film performance (without original sound) also survive, as does one complete performance with sound, of the tune "J'Attendrai" performed with the Quintet in 1938 for the short film Le Jazz Hot.
Posthumous compilations (LP, cassette and CD)
Reinhardt's recorded output has been re-released on a large number of LPs, cassettes and CDs since his death and also the start of the LP era. Of particular mention is Intégrale Django Reinhardt, volumes 1–20 (40 CDs), released by the French company Frémeaux from 2002 to 2005, which attempted to include every known track on which he played.
The following list of reissues is only a selection; as at December 2015, www.discogs.com listed more than 560 such albums; a full listing is available from the source cited here.
- 1953 Django Reinhardt et Ses Rythmes
- 1954 The Great Artistry of Django Reinhardt
- 1954 Le Jazz Hot
- 1955 Django's Guitar
- 1959 Django Reinhardt and His Rhythm
- 1963 The Immortal Django Reinhardt Guitar
- 1980 Routes to Django Reinhardt
- 1991 Django Reinhardt – Pêche à la Mouche: The Great Blue Star Sessions 1947/1953
- 1995 Jazz & Blues Collection, Editions Atlas, 1937–1940
- 1996 Imagine
- 1997 Django Reinhardt: Nuages, with Coleman Hawkins
- 1998 The Complete Django Reinhardt HMV Sessions
- 2000 The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order (five-CD boxed set)
- 2001 All Star Sessions
- 2001 Jazz in Paris: Swing 39
- 2002 Djangology, recorded in 1948 and remastered and released by Bluebird Records
- 2002-2005 Intégrale Django Reinhardt, vols. 1–20, Frémeaux et Associés, 20 two-CD volumes
- 2003 Jazz in Paris: Nuages
- 2003 Jazz in Paris: Nuits de Saint-Germain des-Prés
- 2004 Le Génie Vagabond
- 2005 Djangology, rereleased by Bluebird)
- 2008 Django on the Radio, radio broadcasts, 1945–1953
A small number of waltzes composed by Reinhardt in his youth were never recorded by the composer, but were retained in the repertoire of his associates and several are still played today. They came to light via recordings by Matelo Ferret in 1960 (the waltzes "Montagne Sainte-Genevieve", "Gagoug", "Chez Jazquet" and "Choti"; Disques Vogue (F)EPL7740) and 1961 ("Djalamichto" and "En Verdine"; Disques Vogue (F)EPL7829). The first four are now available on Matelo's CD Tziganskaïa and Other Rare Recordings, released by Hot Club Records (subsequently reissued as Tziganskaïa: The Django Reinhardt Waltzes).
- Oscar Alemán
- Django à Liberchies festival
- DjangodOr (Golden Django)
- Festival Django Reinhardt
- Festivals de jazz Django Reinhardt, a French list of world-wide festivals dedicated to the guitarist
- Gypsy jazz
- List of Belgian bands and artists
- List of Belgian musicians and singers
- List of compositions by Django Reinhardt
- List of Romani people
- R-26 (salon)
- Jean Sablon
- Vernon Story
- His official forename was not "Jean-Baptiste", as often cited. The name on his birth certificate is "Reinhardt, Jean". His biographer Michael Dregni stated that "Jean Reinhardt" is the name used on all official documents. Dregni, Michael (2004). Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend. Oxford University Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-19-516752-X.
- Balen, Noël (2003). Django Reinhart: Le Génie vagabond. ISBN 978-2268045610.
- Dregni, Michael (2004). Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend. Oxford University Press. p. 200. ISBN 9780198037439.
Django's French passport 00132 was issued American visa PV 2439.
- Jurek, Thom. "The Hot Jazz: Le Hot Club de France, Vols. 1–4". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- Balen, Noël (2003). Django Reinhart: Le Génie vagabond. ISBN 978-2268045610.
- Dregni, Michael (2004). Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend. Oxford University Press. p. 200. ISBN 9780198037439.
Django's French passport 00132 was issued American visa PV 2439.
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- Dregni, Michael (2004). Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend. Oxford University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-19-516752-X.
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- Delaunay, Charles (1961). Django Reinhardt. Da Capo Press. pp. 145–160. ISBN 0-306-80171-X.
- Tranchant, Jean: pg. 116, La Grande Roue; Éditions de la Table Ronde, Paris, 1969.
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- Schnuckenack Reinhardt (German language)
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- Media related to Django Reinhardt at Wikimedia Commons