May 16 will mark the 63rd anniversary of Django’s death. He died at the very early age of 43. Django has long been a major influence on my music. It is quite remarkable just how popular his music remains throughout the world.
I first discovered Django’s music when I was about 18 years old. While listening to the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) late one night I happened on a show that featured several tracks from the various periods of Django’s development. I was particularly struck by his “late period” which is generally considered the time shortly before his death (1949-1953). It was at this point that the influence of bebop was coming to the fore in his playing and compositions.
As much as musicians like Django, Monk, Joe Pass and Ravel have influenced my music, it may surprise some that Chopin has also been influential.
At first, when I was quite young, the attraction to Chopin was only due to the fact that he was Polish and I too have that heritage. In fact, it was a language my grandparents spoke. Later, I became very attached to his solo piano works. The Scherzos and Ballades especially caught my attention though the Etudes, Sonatas and Mazurkas also rate high with me.
Many of my solo guitar pieces (especially on the album Quintessence) are my humble attempts at applying my impressions of Chopin to plectrum guitar.