Django Gypsy Jazz Guitar
Django Reinhardt was one of the most admired and influential guitarists of the last century, and in some ways he can be seen as the first guitar hero of popular music - but Django's compositional flair can easily be overlooked. Great tunes include:
Manoir De Mes Reves
These are all great tunes, with fantastic chords. Even today, they sound advanced in their use of harmony and swing. A French website called manoucheries.com has the chords for these tunes, and also chord diagrams for gypsy jazz-style chords. Django played Maccaferri style guitars, which have a distictive "barking" tone and project well in terms of volume - personally I find them difficult to play, but they do help capture an authentic sound.
In Samois-sur-seine near Paris there is an annual festival that commemorates Django close to where he died.The 2009 festival is from 25th-28th June.
His birthplace in Belgium also keeps the flame alive with a festival in May.(Weekend of the 16th) There is a link below.
Bireli Lagrene and John Jorgenson are just two of the amazing contemporary guitarists that pay homage to Django's music. They are both fantastic players, and Bireli's Gypsy Jazz Project is one of the best bands I've seen.
Django was a very colourful character, and there are some great stories about him passed down from musicians like Stephane that he worked with. One of his traits was to not turn up for important gigs (including Carnegie Hall) and go fishing instead - but my favourite is when he didn't show up for his first recording dates. He said recording would never catch on!
A life in the jazz century
A great 2 DVD set of Grappelli's life story, featuring footage of Django - though there isn't very much of this. Still a great story, very well presented.