Born in 1910, the French Gypsy guitarist became the first European jazz celebrity and an influence on musicians around the world. in 1934, with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and during the thirties made celebrated recordings with visiting Americans including Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins and Rex Stewart. When World War Two broke out, Grappelli went to England. Reinhhardt reformed the quintet with clarinetist Hubert Rostaing. He recorded his composition “Nuages” several times, never more effectively than in this version from December, 1940. Django and Joseph Reinhardt, guitars; Hubert Rostaing and Alix Combelle, clarinets; Tony Rovira, bass.
Shortly after Reinhardt died in 1953, John Lewis helped keep the guitarist’s name alive when he titled a piece that was to become one of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s most celebrated numbers. Sixty years later, “Django” is a staple in the jazz repertoires of players old and young, as pianist Aaron Diehl demonstrated in a performance at Dizzy’s club in New York. His sidemen are Warren Wolf, vibes; David Wong, bass; and Rodney Green, drums.