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Django Reinhardt - Guitar-Maestro (1/4)

Django 1932 with Selmer/Maccaferri-GuitarBorn as Jean-Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt in the belgian village Liberchies in the near of Charleroi on January 23rd 1910, Django Reinhardt was to become one of the most famous guitarrists worldwide and from all times.

Growning up in an absolutely musical family (his father already has been a very famous musician in french/belgian Gypsy-circles), the young Django learns to play music at first on a Banjo at the age of 10. Completely without reading or playing any sheetmusic and learning all things completely autodidactical, his musical genius was to develop very fast in his young years.django reinhardt 12years
Together with his mother Negros and his younger brother Joseph "Nin-Nin", young Django grew up mainly in the subburbs of Paris in the early years of 1920 (see also Django Reinhardt - Private Life).

Soon Django played really good just after a couple of years of practise, but in these few years he was using every free minute that he had for that purpose. He played so well that he received his first invitations around the age of about 12 years (image right) to play concerts in the band of his uncle. Very soon he had made his name in the circles of musicians, so well that Django who is not even 16 years old, around 1926 he was hired from Vetese Guérino to play for his orchestra. Guérino was a very famous accordeonist in Paris at that time (image left below, Guerino middle, Django 2. f.r.) who played at the "Bals musettes" (so called "dancefloor parties" that were really hip that time all over France). Very soon followed other musicians of the french metropol Paris that hired Django for accompaning them in the following years.

His mother Guerino Negros buys him his first guitar at the age of 16 years and young Django starts to work real hard and practise playing music even more.

Pretty fast Django changes over to play the guitar permanently, always interested in new musical challenges. Especially he is interested in the "new sound" of JAZZ of the early and roaring 1920ies that swapped over from America to France and was beeing played in the parisian nightclubs by many american musicians that had stayed over there in the old world after the 1. worldwar.

Django learned everything that he could hear and copied it somehow so very fast, soaking up sound and music like a sponge, like with an almost "photographic musical memory". His genius in playing grows incredibly fast and soon he becomes the "inside tip" under the parisian musicians of that time.

In 1928 at the age of around 18 years a serious event abruptly interrupts his young growing career as a musician. A fire in his caravan injured him so heavily that he suffered from heavy combustions of 2nd degree on his whole left side of the body including his leg, arm and hand and he had to stop playing music for almost more than one year completely staying in a hospital.

Read more -> Django Reinhardt - Guitar Maestro (2/4)

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Django Reinhardt - Guitar-Maestro (2/4)

Djangos linke HandA dramatical event at November 2nd 1928 stopps the carreer as musician of young Django, just 18 years old.

His wife Bella had prepared flowers of plastic which were made for sale on the market the next day, and had spread them around all over the caravan.
Django 1930By accident a burning candle dropped  down and just within a few seconds the whole caravan ablazed in big fire!

Django just had the time to securely save his wife, himself breaking down unconscious afterwhat. He barely himself could be saved alive by others in the last second from the burning caravan.

Heavily injured and burnt by the blazing fire in his caravan Django Reinhardt is brought to a hospital in Paris. He is to stay in hospitals and sanitariums for the next 1 1/2 years.

The fire had burned him so strongly that all of his left bodyside was heavily injured, especially his left hand was burned so vast that he wasn´t able to use his ringfinger and pinky anymore very well, even after recovering (see photos top left and bottom right).
Django will always keep having problems with his health for the rest of his short life with lots of pain very often in the following years, thus never recovering completely from this accident...djangoshand

The (wrong) prophecy of the doctors in the parisian hospital was stating that he would never ever be able to play banjo or guitar again cause of his heavy injuries. At that time his combustion could be medically treated only insufficiently and Django has big pains over and over again.

After a few weeks the doctors even offer him to amputate his left arm and leg, otherwise they wouldn´t be able to help him anymore ... Django immediately changes to another hospital in  Fontainebleau.lamusicajazz magazin

As it seems this was a good decision, as after another half year of well going recovery his brother Joseph is able to bring Django´s beloved guitar into the hospital and Django starts practising guitar again with an absolute iron will, always working against his heavy pains.

He is practising and working, working, working to get back his playing skills ... until after another one year later Django will be able to leave the hospital again. He had then spent about 1 1/2 years there and in this time worked like mad to get back to old playing-abilties.

Due to his disablilty left over and caused by the burnt skin of his left hand (see top photos above) he wasn´t able to play regularely used chord-voicings anymore (e.g. like full barré-chords), so Django had to change his way of playing chords as of his soloing all the same, to be able to play without pain.accord 6e mineur f

But Django starts to develop his very own unique play-techniques and voicings on the guitar (known as the famous "three-finger"-voicings, e.g. our example right Am6), which later on will be later on taken over by many famous Jazz-musicians, thus influencing all of the jazzworld entering into modern jazz-harmonics in the later years...

In these dark and heavy days Django had made the impossible and recaptured back the music for himself. He was to become one of the greatest and most famous guitarrists of all times on this planet... and his greatest success is just ahead of him and yet to come up.

Read more -> Django Reinhardt - Guitar-Maestro (3/4)

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Django Reinhardt - Guitar-Maestro (3/4)

jazzhotmagAfter Django left hospital again in 1930/31, almost recovered from his injuries, he starts to play regularely again, working as accompanying guitarist in some formations that worked at the Hotels, Bars and Restaurants as of the famous "Bals Musettes". delaunay

In the following months he meets Charles Delauney (photo right), a great french Jazz-Fan. Charles will become his personal mentor who will be at his side for many years after.

Initiated by Charles Delauney from 1933 to 1950 the "Hot Club de France", a kind of association for promoting the french Jazz, brought together many famous jazz-musicians such as Dizzie Gillespie, Charly Parker or Duke Ellington for concerts or Jam-sessions in Paris, also with Django Reinhardt. Charles Delauney also released a little Member-Magazine named "Jazz Hot" (image left) with the association, in which actual artists of the Jazz-scene were presented.

In the year 1934 as well on initiative of Charles Delauney the founding of the first setup of the  JM Greats LouisVola"Quintette du Hot Club de France" as an offial Band was done, after Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli - HCDF_1938both members of the Band of Louis Vola, personly met in 1933 for the first time at their gigs with him.

The bassplayer Louis Vola at that time was the bandleader of a danceband which had a regular booking at the Hotel Claridge in the Parisian Arrondisment St. Germain.

All musicians in this band used to play french songs and chansons that were "hip" for dancing in this time. But nevertheless all musicians were absolutely excited by and interested in the "new sound" of Swing-Jazz that had swapped over to Paris from the USA around 1920.
This music-style had been established in the bars and nightclubs of Paris, mostly played by US-soldiers that had come to Europe within the 1st worldwar and that had stayed over there in the old world after. These musicians always used to play Jazz in Clubs and Restaurants.

But Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and Louis Vola weren´t allowed to play Jazz in the hotels for dancing. So they just used to jam on their favoured tunes in the backrooms of the hotel during their breaks between the gigs, faszinated by the new music.

The setup of the first Quintette du Hot Club de France, which was only made up from stringed instruments was formed by these jam-sessions, resulting in the following musicians-setup: Django Reinhardt (Sologit.), Stéphane Grappelli (Viol. Piano), Joseph Reinhardt (Rhythmgit), Roger Chaput (Rhythmgit.), later on exchanged by Pierre "Baro" Ferret, and Louis Vola on Bass. Later on it was also Francis Luca (see photo top left) and Emmanual Soudieux on bass. The famous "Quintette du Hot Club de France," was born!

qhcfprogFrom this setup the term "Stringed-Jazz" (Jazz played with stringed instruments) was invented, as normally Jazz would have solely been played with wind-instruments (Saxophone Clarinette, Trumpet) in this time. HCDF_1940But due to the lack of any wind-instruments in their setup the musicians of the "Quintette du Hot Club de France," used to play Jazz just with their string-instruments like  violin, guitars and bass.

In 1939 when the 2nd worldwar was due to begin
Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli stay in London for some concerts with the Quintette. But Django doesnt want to stay there and eagerly returns to Paris to his family.

So Stephane Grapelli remains alone in London during the war-time and Django returns back to France with the rest of the musicians of the Quintette.

In the later years between 1939 and 1950 Django starts to work in different setups of the "Quintette du Hot Club de France," together with clarinette-player Hubert Rostaing or Alix Combelle at the saxophone (see photo right).

Read more -> Django Reinhardt - Guitar-Maestro (4/4)

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Django Reinhardt - Guitar-Maestro (4/4)

ststAfter his return from London to France in 1946 Stephane Grapelli again meets with Django Reinhardt.
But although there are some tries for "reunions" of the original setup of the Quintette with Stephane Grapelli between 1946 and 1949, these were not for good and long lasting, thus resulting just in a few recordings (for example the Album "From Swing to Bop").

Already beginning with the first years of war around 1941 until 1946/47, Django Reinhardt was very much interested in the more popular sound of Swing-Jazz and the new Bigbandsound of that time. As well the first great success of the Django Satchmo Duke Mix Quintette in the 20ies and 30ies all over Europe and especially in France had vanished a bit and the musical taste of the public had changed, so Django was looking for new frontiers.

In 1949, again initiated by his friend and Manager Charles Delauney, Django Reinhardt gets invited for a big USA-tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. During this tour he is to meet all american famous Jazz-players of that time like Satchmo, Benny Goodman, Harry Volpe and many others.
As already since 1941 and the more after his return to France from this Tour in 1949, Django himself more starts to experiment with this new sound of "Bebop"-jazz that he adapted in America. He forms another setup of the "Quintette du Hotclub de France" together with musicians like Alix Combelle or Hubert Rostaing (on clarinette and saxophone).

The later recordings of the Quintette since 1946 until theend of 1950 clearly show a strong change in his own playing, strongly influenced by the bebop-sound of the electrical guitarstyle of a Charly Christian or saxophonist Charly Parker.
For all his life Django Reinhardt was always interested in new sounds, in extending frontiers and taking up challenges, but especially adoring the "classical" writers like Bach, Beethoven and Grieg.

django3a The recordings made from the 1930ies until the late 1950ies by the Quintette du Hotclub de France today are legendary and the best whitnesses of these great Swing-musicians.

Django Reinhardt dies, still very young, on May 16th 1953, just at the age of 43 years, by a brainstroke in the hospital of Fontainebleau (see also Django Reinhardt - private Life (1/6).Djangos Beerdigung

Apart from his family many friends, admirers and fans were coming to his burrial to give a last honour to their great idol and model. (image right).

His unique and inimitable playing, his creativity and playing joy as the ability to create melodies in pure beauty and precision still excite thousands of guitarists and music fans with enthusiasm till this day all over the world.

Django Reinhardt was a musical genius who will remain untouched. His influence on the playingof guitarrists of all kinds (not only in Jazz) as well remain until this day.

If you want to read more about Djangos Lifestory be sure to read the article-series about Django Reinhardt - private Life (1/6). On the net there are as well more infos, here a well made and detailed biography on Django Reinhardt.

Read more - Django Reinhardt - private Life (1/6)

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Django Reinhardt - private Life (1/6)

Django Reinhardt - private Life (1/6)

Django_Privat_01Although Django Reinhardt became a worldwide known Guitar-Idol and of course is the musical inventor of the (Gypsyjazz-)Jazzguitar who left his footprints and  DjangoBirthCert 1910Innovations especially in the style of playing Jazz and JazzManouche-guitar, but still many people know almost nothing about himself as a human beeing or his personality and his private life.

Django Reinhardt, was born Januar 23rd 1910 in the belgian village of Liberchies in the near of Charleroi, named Jean-Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt.
He raised in the early 1920ies together with his mother called "Negros" and his younger brother Joseph "Nin-Nin" Reinhardt mainly in the subburbs of Paris, an area that was called "La Zone", after his father Jean-Eugéne Weiss left the family relatively early in his life.

His father Jean-Eugéne Weiss (image below, right middle) was born 1882 and he was a famous musician amongst Gypsies already, who also worked as a basket-weaver sometimes to earn money for his family. He played serveral instrumentsDjangos Family copy like Violin, Cymbale, Piano and Guitar. And he tuned pianos to earn a little more money when there was no engagement around to play music.

Djangos mother, Laurence Reinhardt (image below left middle), was called "Negros" (span. f. black) by the french Manouches, cause of her long black hair.

Djangos Mother Negros001To earn money she made Jewelry, sells cloths and other goods on the fleamarkets around the Port de Clignancourt in Paris, but her big fun was to dance. Whenever there was music around she used to dance emediately.
django with negros family
Laurence "Negros" Reinhardt was an impressive and strong woman, even left by her husband, made her life and raised her two chlidren just by her own - a single with a strong character.

Negros fighted very hard to feed and raise her two sons "Django" and "Nin-Nin" leading them to the right track.

More Django Reinhardt - private Life (2/6)

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