Backstory: Django Reinhardt hail, hail! The musical style he helped popularize was coined 'Gypsy Jazz,' but Reinhardt, heavily influenced by American greats, Charlie Christian, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, among just the guitarists, would have preferred the singular, Jazz. Since his death in 1953, the legendary guitarist's fan base has been growing and growing. Many of us marvel at the fact that he was only able to use two of his fret hand fingers to play those licks and riffs, but to become his fan based on that would be similar to becoming a Stephen King fan based on his typing skills. You know what I mean. Several years ago, while still at Brooklyn College, I'd listened to a Django LP. I was bored to death. What the hell was that? I was heavily listening to acoustic blues, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Son House etc. Hadn't yet gotten into Jazz, so I guess....anyway...I needed to wait for the Django potion. Flashforward to 1999.Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown came out. Interestingly, I had tried to but never 'got' his films. Not my brand of humor, I told myself. Needless to say I became a Django and Woody addict after watching the film. Since then, I've listened to every album recorded by Django (even the one with Duke Ellington) and watched every film made by Allen. Call me nuts, but that's how I operate. Check out Hot Club of France's rendition of Beyond The Sea. Simply beautiful!
Let's cut to the fucking chase, shall we? I happened upon a little known film soon after called Django Lagacy, that featured some Django-ists, including Django's son Babik [I believe the NY Public Library still has the VHS copies]. Couple of them stood out for, the Rosenberg Trio and Bireli Lagrene. 'Stood out' is not enough, 'blew me away' is about right. I don't believe the Rosenberg Trio has toured the US, but Bireli has quite a following in the States. He's experimented with other styles, gone electric and stuff, but his roots have always peeked through them. You can imagine how frustrating it was for me not be able to find concerts, albums, and interviews on these guys.
Then YouTube and Google Video changes the world. And now not only can I indulge in hours and hours of concert footage, but I can share it with you. So here are a few clips that may get you the Django fever. The American Songbook is just not covered by these musicians, it's romanced by them.
And Guitar players...you're welcome.
Django Reinhardt Clip: [youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=zD6ZD1Igxr0]
Bireli Lagrene and Friends [googlevideo=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-333914463989151558&hl=en" flashvars=""]
Bireli Lagrene and Sylvain Luc [Check out their great album together Made in France] [googlevideo="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-5194107834463517754&hl=en" flashvars=""]
Rosenbert Trio w/ Bireli Lagrene and Christian Escoude [googlevideo=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=945165251690519919&hl=en" flashvars=""]
Rosenberg Trio w/Guests [googlevideo=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-6558756770600111211&hl=en" flashvars=""]