Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Django at 108; or That Toddlin' Town

I couldn't help but notice Tuesday is the birthday anniversary of Django Reinhardt, the celebrated master of "gypsy jazz" who was one of the first guitar players to use the stringed instrument as the lead for his music, rather than just strumming chord patterns in the background for rhythm.

Reinhardt, of course, is long departed from our realm of existence, dying of a stroke in 1953 at age 43. If he were still with us, he'd be 108 now. And yes, the centennial of his birth was celebrated with, amongst other places, a tribute concert eight years ago at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

YES, I'LL ADMIT that while I enjoy listening to recordings of Reinhardt and his guitar playing (which I can't even come close to matching myself), I'm writing this copy in part to give myself a break for the day. Regular commentary will return Wednesday. I'm sure Donald Trump (or Bruce Rauner) will have said something stupid by then.
But I'll leave you with a couple of recordings to sample his work -- one of which is his take on that classic tune of our city, the one that boasts of us as "that toddlin' town" (and which I always prefer to that other Chicago tune that was the theme song from the Frank Sinatra film Robin and the Seven Hoods). Along with an actual video snippet of Reinhardt playing "live."
I hope you can enjoy his playing similar to how I do.


EDITOR'S NOTE: For those of you who can't comprehend the existence of anything prior to 1980, there was that Woody Allen-directed film from 1999, "Sweet and Lowdown," starring Sean Penn as Emmett Ray, a guitar player who billed himself as the "Second-greatest" guitarist in the world, right behind Django. Personally, I still get a kick out of the Penn character's reaction upon actually meeting Reinhardt himself.

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