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Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt was born on January 24, 1910 in Belgium and became one of the first ground-breaking influences with lasting effect on the jazz guitar scene. His remarkable style influenced such contemporary jazz guitarists as Earl Klugh, Larry Coryell, George Benson and the late Wes Montgomery, among many others. He was born a gypsy of gypsy parents with a long gypsy heritage. He started playing professionally at age 13 and by 1928 was established as a young genius.

A strange and highly bizarre caravan fire incident left him with a deformed left hand, which hindered him for a time but he did not give up his playing career. He simply used his strong drive and love of music to develop and pioneer his unusual technique with less playing fingers.

During the early 1930s he appeared frequently in performance, and at one point became the accompanist for Jean Sablon. During 1934, he would discover his love for jazz and all its intricate ways while forming his famous Quintet Le Hot Club de France with jazz giant Stephane Grappelli on violin.

Reinhardt performed with Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Barney Bigard, and others during the 1930s. A popular figure, handsome, and encouraging to new musicians, he married Sophie Ziegler; they had a son named Babik who also became a musician. Reinhardt died on May 15, 1953.

His influences were far-reaching, including his "Nuages" still being performed, and his exquisite playing style reflects his heritage and life as a gypsy, and he utilized harmonics in his playing. Towards the end of his life, an influence of bebop came into his work. He was also noted for his sixteenth note infusions among other techniques.

Django Reinhardt is considered the most impressive and gifted of the early jazz guitarists to make the guitar a major influence in jazz. His influence is still being felt today in contemporary music.

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  • Artist / Group Name: Django Reinhardt
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