Happy Birthday, Django Reinhardt

Image credit: 
Library of Congress/William P. Gottlieb (Public Domain)

Django Reinhardt is my favorite jazz guitarist. He invented "hot jazz," and with Stéphane Grappelli made an indelible mark on jazz music worldwide. What's most impressive is that Django played his solos with only two fingers on his left hand, as the others were partially paralyzed after being burned at age 18. The other two fingers were used for chords, but those melodic solos? Yep, just two fingers, people.

Django was born on January 23, 1910, and died aged only 43. On what would have been his 103rd birthday, here's a documentary on his life: Swing Guitar: the Genius of Django Reinhardt. It contains rare film of Django playing, and puts his life and jazz contributions into perspective.

Part One

His early years, and some rare footage of him playing.

Part Two

Here comes Grappelli!

Part Three

A long discussion of Django's impulsivity, gambling, and general unreliability -- plus plenty of performance film.

Part Four

The war ends, the jazz begins anew.

Part Five

Django's last days.

The Documentary on DVD

Amazon has the documentary, used, on DVD. Looks to be out of print: Swing Guitar: The Genius of Django Reinhardt.

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January 23, 2013 - 10:00pm
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