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Django Reinhardt gypsy jazz guitar

Updated on October 21, 2012

Django's compositions

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:

Nuages

Manoir De Mes Reves

Tears

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.

Django, 1936

Django festivals

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 anecdotes

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.

Stochelo

Chords and chord charts for songs

The manoucheries site that I have linked is great for songs in this style, and also for reference for chords.

See "grilles" for chord charts and "Accords" for chords.

Recommended - Know the man, play the music (Dave Gelly)

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    • profile image

      Bernie rudd 6 years ago

      Stochelo is the greatest gypsy jazz guitarist of all

    • Jon Green profile image
      Author

      Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Yes, he is excellent too.

    • Jon Green profile image
      Author

      Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Have added a video clip of Stochelo - very

      clean and very fast playing.

    • Lorenzo E profile image

      Lorenzo E 6 years ago

      I really believe that any aspiring jazz guitarist should spend some serious time studying Django. It forces you to learn how to outline chords in your solos. Just listen to him. If you took away the backup band and had him continue playing you’d still be able to make sense of the chord progression. Love it!

    • Jon Green profile image
      Author

      Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Yes, I agree - it's essential jazz guitar material.

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