Personalities | Django Reinhardt | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

(Guitar, 1910–53)

One of the reasons that Django Reinhardt dominated conversations about the guitar so completely in the 1930s was his fortunate timing. He arrived on the world jazz scene through the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in 1934 – a year after the death of Eddie Lang and five years before the arrival of Charlie Christian. Belgian by birth, he became a jazz star without ever going to the United States. Reinhardt travelled in a gypsy caravan, yet absorbed American jazz pop and jazz standards, including ‘Avalon’, ‘The Sheik Of Araby’ and dozens more.

The Hot Club Quintet had a salonish, continental quality with a tightly packed, chugging rhythm section of two guitars and bass (with no drums). It was an ideal anchor for the improvisations of Reinhardt, whose trajectories had a swift, spun-glass delicacy full of notes quivering with an intense vibrato that was equal parts emotion and ethnic flavouring. After the war he made his only trip to the US, recording with Duke Ellington in 1946.

Styles & Forms | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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