Yes, it's long overdue, a Song of the Week by Jean “Django” Reinhardt (23.01.1910-16.05.1953), the first and probably still the most influencial European jazz musician.
Django Reinhardt was born into a french speaking gypsy – so-called Manouche – family and grew up near Paris. He learned violin, banjo and the guitar very early and at the age of twelve or thirteen (depends on the source), he already was a professional musician.
In 1928 Django was heavily injured in a fire of his caravan. His right leg was paralysed and his left hand was badly burned. The doctors wanted to amputate his leg but Django refused. During the rehabilitation time of 18 months he was given a guitar by his brother Joseph and he developed a total new fingering style with only two fingers!
The legendary The Quintet of the Hot Club of France was born in 1934 after Django met Stéphane Grappelli. It was one of the few well-known jazz ensembles composed only of string instruments. The small record company Ultraphone recorded their first sides Dinah, Tiger Rag, Oh Lady be Good, and I Saw Stars which caused a sensation. The band went on to record hundreds of record side.
The Quintet broke at the beginning of World War II. Django recorded troughout the war years and after the war, he was rejoined by Stéphane and they again performed and recorded.
In 1951 Django retired, in 1953 he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and died.
Django Reinhardt couldn't read and write notes, nevertheless he composed many songs which became jazz standards. One of it is the often covered tune Minor Swing, representing the typical sound of Gypsy Swing by Django Reinhardt and his fellows.
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Every Monday, I post a new “Song of the Week“. Sign up for the weekly blog update by email and get the newest edition directly in your inbox.
Song of the Week #28: “Besame Mucho” by Oscar Aleman
Song of the Week #57: “Duke & Dukie” by The Rosenberg Trio
Song of the Week #68: “Come On-A My House” by Rosemary Clooney
Song of the Week #67: “Shoo Shoo Baby” by Alice Babs
Song of the Week #66: “Empty Ballroom Blues” by Duke Ellington
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