Django Reinhardt

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Reinhardt, Django

(Jean Baptiste Reinhardt), 1910–53, Belgian jazz guitarist of Romani (Gypsy) descent. Reinhardt began playing the guitar professionally at 12. He was severely burned in a fire in 1928, leaving two fingers of his left hand useless, but adapted his guitar style to the disability. Reinhardt, who had roots in France's popular dance-hall music, first encountered (1931) jazz in a Louis ArmstrongArmstrong, Louis
(Daniel Louis Armstrong), known as "Satchmo" and "Pops," 1901–1971, American jazz trumpet virtuoso, singer, and bandleader, b. New Orleans. He learned to play the cornet in the band of the Waif's Home in New Orleans, and after playing with Kid Ory's
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 recording. He immediately began to experiment with jazz playing, often jamming with violinist Stéphane GrappelliGrappelli, Stéphane,
1908–97, French jazz violinist, b. Paris. Trained at the Paris Conservatory as a classical violinist, he became enamored of American jazz and devoted himself to the idiom, successfully melding African-American and European forms.
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. The two worked intermittently (1934–39) with the Quintet of the Hot Club in Paris, where they both gained recognition. Reinhardt toured the United States with Duke EllingtonEllington, Duke
(Edward Kennedy Ellington), 1899–1974, American jazz musician and composer, b. Washington, D.C. Ellington made his first professional appearance as a jazz pianist in 1916.
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 in 1946 and spent his last years in France, touring and recording. His clear, percussive playing style, strongly influenced by his Romani background, was notable for its virtuosity and improvisation. He was the first foreign musician to exert an influence on American jazz.

Bibliography

See M. Gregni, Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend (2004).