John Lewis, “Django” and Django

John Lewis Head ShotThis is the birthday of John Lewis (1920-2001), the pianist and music director of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Many of his compositions are staples of the jazz repertoire. None is better known than “Django,” named for the Belgian Gypsy guitarist who was the first European musician to become a major jazz figure. Lewis discussed the piece and his reason for writing it in a television appearance with Billy Taylor. The clip is a reminder of the pleasantness of John’s personality and the understated strength of his playing. After we see and hear him play “Django,” we’ll listen to Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France from 1940. This was Reinhardt’s first recording of his own most famous composition, “Nuages.” You may be able to detect a harmonic source of Lewis’s inspiration.

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  1. Joel Elkins says

    Lovely. The interview with John Lewis was very touching. Oh how I miss those two.

  2. Peter Bergmann says

    I always thought of John Lewis and his music as being very demanding and unpretentious at the same time which is a rare and delightful combination.

  3. des stanley says

    thank you doug for that glimpse of two gentlemen of jazz,discussing and playing that timeless reminder of what the music is all about