|Jean "Django" Reinhardt 1910-1953|
Django Reinhardt led a colourful and romantic life. He was born in Belgium into a Romani (Gypsy) family and remained immersed in that culture all of his life. His father had changed the family name on his birth certificate from Weiss in order to avoid military conscription
He is regarded as the first European musician to make an important contribution to the world of jazz music. He formed the Quintette du Hot Club de France with the violinist Stephan Grapelli in 1934 and is considered to have been one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived.
Amazingly two of the fingers of his left hand were paralysed after a fire in the caravan he shared with his then wife at the age of 18! He re-learned his playing technique after the injury and was able to make use of those fingers in chord playing but not in solos thereafter.
I always find joy listening to his music; its so full of energy and the deceptively casual playing could only be the work of an absolute master.
Django was greatly influenced by American jazz records that he heard and referred to Louis Armstrong as "my brother". He was also one of the first people in France to recognise the brilliance of Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie.
He died of a brain haemorrhage at the early age of 43.
I have a link to a great selection of his music below: Enjoy!
The Quintette du Hot Club de France