It’s Django Reinhardt’s Birthday

Django SmilingBorn 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.

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  1. Frances says

    Thank you, Doug, for the wonderful Django Reinhardt bits of info and music. Your Rifftides make checking my email worthwhile.

  2. says

    An interviewer once asked Grappelli, “You really played with the great Django Reinhardt?!!”
    Grapelli replied, “Well, he play weeth me, too.”

  3. dick vartanian says

    If I remember right, Paul Desmond first introduced to me these guys. I wore out the records of “Crazy Rhythm,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” and “Dicky’s Blues.” Great stuff !!.

    What the heck, Dick, let’s wear out “Crazy Rhythm” a little more. Each of the saxophonists plays a chorus, and we hear Django give up his precious 78 rpm solo time and urge Hawkins to take a second helping. What a record. Des and I used to listen to this. —DR

    Here’s the full list of personnel, courtesy of SwingMan 1937, who put the piece up on YouTube:

    Coleman Hawkins, Alix Combelle – tenor saxes
    Benny Carter, Andre Ekyan – alto saxes
    Django Reinhardt – guitar
    Stephane Grappelly – piano (! – hardly a note of piano is heard)
    Eugène D’Hellemmes – bass
    Tommy Benford – drums

  4. dick vartanian says

    Thanks very much, Doug. God, how I enjoyed hearing that record again. When I got that record I played Benny’s solo over and over and over and then the same thing with Hawk.

  5. Mick Davis says

    British jazz trumpeter, Humphrey Lyttleton (who sadly died a few years back) once told a story about Django and Stephane going to business meetings that involved booking arrangements for the H.C de F.

    It transpired that Django couldn’t understand the intricacies of the contract on offer but felt he had to make his prescence felt by looking over the document. He would study it carefully before pointing to a paragraph and stating unequivocally, “Non, non!”

    But invariably the paragraph he objected to would be the part which guaranteed the band free accommodation and food.