Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23: Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)

[Visual description: Django Reinhardt, in a black-and-white photo, holding his guitar, with a cigarette in his lips]

One hundred years ago this weekend, guitarist Django Reinhardt was born, outside the town of Liberchies, Belgium, in a Roma family. The teenaged Django found work playing music in a Paris dance hall. But at 18, the caravan he shared with his first wife caught fire. He was burned, with especially bad burns on two fingers on his left hand and his right leg. Reinhardt walked with a cane eventually, and returned to the guitar by making adaptations around his burned fretting hand. The result was a distinctive sound, and a legendary career in jazz.

See and hear a snippet of Reinhardt playing in this YouTube video from 1945 (the visuals also include people dancing, boxes being unloaded from a truck, and ration coupons being clipped).

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