Thursday, April 27, 2006

Django Reinhardt - Paris 1946-1948

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Django Reinhardt, "Swingtime in Springtime"

Django Reinhardt, "I Won't Dance"

Django Reinhardt, "Diminushing"

Django Reinhardt, "Bricktop"

We've come to the end of our look at the music of Django Reinhardt, which I hope has been enjoyable and informative. These songs come from the final disc of the boxed set I have been hyping since the beginning. These disc, sadly, cover the last years of Reinhardt's life, before he passed away at the age of 43 from a brain hemmorhage. Most of these years were spent in London, where he met up with Stephane Grapelli once again. He maintained two bands, his original version of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, the one with Grapelli, and his wartime version with clarinet and drums. There was lots of touring and recording, and eventually Reinhardt moved back to Paris until his death.

You will notice that Reinhardt's sound begins to adapt to the times, speeding up, clearly influenced by the bop music coming out of the US at this time. It's interesting to hear how open to new sounds and directions Reinhardt is, as you wouldn't know it from his status as gypsy jazz inventor. I actually like the faster stuff, but nothing lives up to their swing moments, which seem more natural and suited for their stringed instruments. It allows for more space, which suits this sad, evocative music to a tee.

Most of all, these years brought Django and his gypsy jazz increasing acclaim. There was even a US tour and opening spot for Duke Ellington in New York City. Possibly the biggest sign of the increasing respect for the guitarist's music and talent came when he was asked to play with Duke's orchestra. While it wasn't much of a success, it does confirm that the greatest jazz composer of the time respected and listened to the music that Django was creating, considered him an essential part of the swing tradition.

I figured that I would add some links for further information, as my knowledge is cursory at best. Suprisingly, there is not that much out there on the Web, particularly collecting all the vast amount of info and articles written about the man. The only one I found is amazing, however, and may be the reason no one else has attempted to do this. The Django Reinhardt Swing Page is essential, dedicated to Django and gypsy jazz. The articles section is a personal favorite, a great chance to read more about the man and his critical reception.

As I said, I am going to keep going down this path, leaping ahead a few decades to the recent revival of traditional gypsy music. First, I will put up some Gogol Bordello, a few tracks off of their other releases, just to remind you of why I started discussing this in the first place. We may even get into klezmer music!

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