Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I just watched this film of Django Rheinhardt at YouTube. I had never seen any video footage of him before. Wow. What an absolutely unique and unsurpassed musician he was. The story of his accident and subsequent loss of most of the use of his left hand ring and pinkie finger is well-known: a fire broke out in his caravan when some plastic flowers (that his wife sold)were ignited by a cigarette. Django suffered massive burns on his hands. He had to re-learn the guitar after his wounds healed, and according to Les Paul, they never did heal.

His brilliant technique, sense of humor and uninhibited spirit made him perhaps the greatest jazz guitar improviser, and certainly one of the earliest. Like Chet Atkins, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen did in their respective genres, Django completely re-wrote the book on what a guitar was capable of - in Jazz and in general - and influenced every guitarist that followed him, whether they knew it or not.

His playing makes me laugh, it's emmanation of pure joy is palpable.


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