Sunday, January 23, 2011
Django Reinhardt - born in Belgium on this day in 1910 - was yet another musician ill-served by his own lack of longevity; although hugely important in his time, as much for bringing the rhythms of his Romani heritage as the distinctive tone of the guitar into the mongrel form of jazz, his death in May 1953 from a sudden brain hemorrhage suffered on a train station platform at Avon - near Fontainebleau, outside Paris - meant that he would not be around to shepherd his own legacy through the seismic upheavals of 20th Century music.
Although it can be argued that his legend was kept alive by a legion of fans, it was so pretty much done so on the q.t.; the full-scale resurrection of Django Reinhardt began with Woody Allen's 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown... At the time I was working in the record store, and used to get people coming in asking for anything by Emmett Ray; Emmett Ray was the character played by Sean Penn in the movie. What a thrill it was to be able to put the Django Reinhardt CD in their hands and send them on their way.
Here we see Reinhardt (with frequent collaborator Stéphane Grappelli) performing J'attenderai.
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