Finding Django

Django
By reynold d. philipsek

I was busy whispering a detailed explanation of Schopenhauer’s Philosophy of the “Will” into the eager ear of a young lady in the backseat of my 56′ Ford when it happened. Believe me, it took quite a jolt to disengage my attention at that exact moment. After all, I was only 18 years old and my red corpuscles were pounding out four to a bar like Gene Krupa in overdrive. But even through the steamed-up windows it was clear to see. I was in love.

“What is that?” I shrieked as I jumped into the front seat and turned up the volume of the car radio. “Who is that guitar player? I love it.”

When the song ended the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) announcer proclaimed it was Jango Rinehart. I searched through the glove box to find a pen or pencil to jot down the name.

The very next day I piloted my Ford 70 miles due south to a section of Minneapolis known as Dinky Town to rummage through the record bins.

An indolent clerk peered up from his intense perusal of a catalog displaying every model and type of hookah known to civilization just long enough to correct me on the name with a condescending sneer. “The name is spelled like this,” he said, as he scrawled Django Reinhardt onto a coffee-stained napkin.

Armed with several Django records, I began my study of his fretwork. The music was a bit old-timey for my taste at that time and songs like “The Sheik of Araby” didn’t exactly turn my crank but the guitar playing was unlike anything I had ever heard.

There are watershed moments in every life and this was one for me. To say Django influenced my music would be complete understatement. I still listen to him daily and play his music every week. All these years later, I can’t even remember the girl’s name.

Django Reinhardt (late period)

Since Django only lived to the age of 43 it may seem odd to refer to any point that could be considered a “late” period. Yet, the recording he did from about 1948 until his death in 1953 are what I am referring to. This was the period immediately following his short tour of the United States with Duke Ellington. Django was very influenced by Bebop at this point and recorded many pieces that reveal that influence. He also went for a more “electric” sound at this point.

I always have had a deep appreciation for this “late period Django” and some of the tunes he wrote during that time like “Nuits De Saint-Germain Des Pres” and “Fleche D’Or.”

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