October 9, 2007 6:26 AM   Subscribe

The most creative jazz musician to originate anywhere outside the United States (Duke Ellington) is maybe the great guitarist Django Reinhardt. It is true that he gave birth to a style which is now played by many musicians. His achievements are outstanding, if we consider the events of his life. He still fascinates both the scholar (great links but in need of some work : see french wiki for more biographic details) among other things because of controversial details (his survival during WWII and the very origin of swing manouche (gypsy jazz)) and the aspiring guitarist (more) (essential resource). But it's maybe better just to listen - and watch - him play. Further watching : Nuages, an amateur documentary in 1 2 3 4 5 parts. Previously.
posted by nicolin (17 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
if you would like to listen to him for a very long time, then go here

enough for weeks of listening
posted by Postroad at 6:49 AM on October 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

At 2;52 of that video, Reinhardt goes on a chromatic run where he clearly and cleanly frets 25 notes in like, 2 seconds. His fretting hand only had two working fingers due to an accident and fire.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:34 AM on October 9, 2007

I just started getting into his stuff last year. It's the only music I can listen to from that period and enjoy. Also, as a guitarist, he's quite amazing. Even more so because of only having two working fingers on his fretting hand.
posted by Chocomog at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2007

Oh wow. Bookmarked. I've been waiting for a great Reinhardt post to sink my ears into. Thanks, nicolin!
posted by lazaruslong at 7:57 AM on October 9, 2007

When I first read this, I thought you were saying that Duke Ellington wasn't American; "Well the stuff ya learn on Metafilter - oh wait ... "

But yeah, Django is it.

When you listen to what he's playing, it's so obvious that he's head and shoulders above anyone else.

When you realize he was doing it with literally less than a whole hand, it verges on the miraculous.
posted by Relay at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2007

Playing a Dangerous Game: Django, Jazz and the Nazis, a fascinating half-hour BBC Radio 4 program about Django's time in WWII.
posted by mediareport at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2007

Viva Django! If you can't get enough -- but have already heard it all or most of it -- supplement your Django diet with the swing guitar mastery of Oscar Aleman. No, he wasn't as amazing as Django, but not everyone gets to be Art Tatum either. But Aleman played in the same idiom as Django, and his terribly underappreciated recordings -- which were collected on rare LPs for years by one Jerry Garcia and his mandolin buddy David Grisman -- are delightful.
posted by digaman at 8:15 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yet another fantastic post nicolin! This is one of my all time favorite posts ever in MetaFilter, it's really wonderful. Excellent additional links to the thread too.

Django's guitar playing is so exquisite it brings tears to my eyes. So much to learn from your links. Didn't know he was Belgian, a gypsy and most astoundingly, that he played with only two fingers of his left hand. Inconceivable that he was so physically limited and played with that kind of incredible agility, finesse and joyous lightness. His music really is so full of joy.

What an interesting man he was I learned from your links, living both in the modern world and in the medieval gypsy word of those decades. He was quirky too, not showing up for a concert because he wanted to walk on the beach or smell the dew. Very endearing that. Sounds like he struggled with clinical depression as well as traits of a pathological narcissist (entitlement and superiority issues etc).

Gypsy swing, ahhh. Wonderful to actually see him play in those great videos. How excellent YouTube and online audio sites can be, a treasure of visual and audio gems I would never have a chance to see or hear otherwise.

Woody Allen made a fun movie, probably an homage to Django, don't know. It's called Sweet and Lowdown, a trailer for the movie.

Wondered what Django's son, Babik, would turn out like, especially with his father dying when Babik was so young. Babik died fairly young too. Babik was an excellent guitarist in his own right, here, in the middle, playing Isn't She Lovely.

There's Djangopedia's "Popular Pages" with videos, guitar chords for songs etc.

Written, directed and produced by John Percivall, the documentary on Django, Nuages, that you linked, is great.

Lots to explore here, for a lovely long time. Thank you so much.
posted by nickyskye at 9:40 AM on October 9, 2007

Thanks so much for this awesome post nicolin. I've loved Django's music for many years but there's lots here I've never seen before.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:21 AM on October 9, 2007

The English hotclub link up (under aspiring guitarist) is invaluable, but worth checking out is also this website, which features some vids. Etudes Tsiganes provides a guide to find where gypsy jazz is played, and a section on the festivals too.
posted by nicolin at 11:26 AM on October 9, 2007

BTW, for those interested, give a look to the show of kiko Ruiz and Renaud Garcia Fons tomorrow in Chicago and in a few days in California..(another sample).
posted by nicolin at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2007

Sweet sweet sweet. Thanks.

And seconding Sweet ad Lowdown, a really good movie, a better-than-average W.Allen movie, a great character played by Sean Penn.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2007

Just discovered another neat link, with a decent page of links to the bands and the musicians around the world.

Love this gypsy swing guitar. If I were going to get a couple of Django CDs, anyone recommend the best ones?
posted by nickyskye at 1:12 PM on October 9, 2007

And Postroad that link is ... without peer.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:39 PM on October 9, 2007

I only recently learnt about the incredible musical legacy of Django from the sweet french film Swing.

A whole new genre of music to discover, thanks for all the awesome links!
posted by elphTeq at 3:48 PM on October 9, 2007

one of the only things ive been listening to for years w/o it getting played out, thanks for all the links
posted by sponge at 6:33 PM on October 9, 2007

The most creative jazz musician to originate anywhere outside the United States

Gil Evans is right up there, along with Paul Bley. And those are just the Canadians.
posted by ericbop at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2007

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