Django Reinhardt was one of the first non-Americans to have a major influence on the sounds of Jazz. Born to Romani (Gypsy) parents in Belgium (1910), Reinhardt had a triumphant career as a guitarist in spite of being severely injured in a fire–it took him about a year to start walking again, and he never regained full use of two fingers on his left had.
Together with Stephane Grappelli, violin, he was invited to form the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1933. The band began performing in 1934 with a new instrumentation: violin, three guitars, and bass. The guitars had smaller sound holes — often D-shaped — to help create a percussive sound in the rhythm section. The original quintet was all strings; however, sometimes the group would add a clarinet or vocalist.
After his death in 1953, Django’s influence waned until Stephane Grappelli began touring again in the 1970s. Since then, the manouche jazz sound has grown and grown in popularity. Django lives in the large number of guitarists who emulate his sound today.
On October 20, 2013, I was invited to the Delaware Valley Djam–a monthly gathering of players from all over the general area–from from Reading, PA, to Millville, NJ. I had a blast listening to them play and we had fun talking about Django’s influence and gypsy jazz today.
Delaware Valley Djam: music and commentary (Recorded 10/20/13; original broadcast date: 1/28/14; host: Mandorichard). 33:59, 32.7 MB. The version linked above contains a longer excerpt of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” than appeared in the radio broadcast.
The following musicians were present on October 20:
- Josh Taylor, Reading, PA, guitar.
- Trey Larue, Reading, PA, bass.
- David Turanski, Berwyn, PA, guitar and bass.
- Bill Nixon, Philadelphia, violin.
- Michael Nikolidakis, Runnemede, NJ, guitar.
- Lou DePietro, Ridley Township, PA, guitar.
- Jon Davis, Downingtown, PA, mandolin.
- Fred Frayer, Malvern, PA, mandolin.
- Dave Kutzik, Mt. Airy (Philadelphia), clarinet.
The members of the jam also play in a variety of gypsy jazz bands:
The following music is heard in this episode of The Music Room:
- Artist / Song / Album (or note) / Label (or source) / Date / Notes
- Delaware Valley Djam (Django Reinhardt Jam) / Swing ’39 / October Djam / WVUD / 2103
- Delaware Valley Djam / Douce Ambience / October Djam / WVUD / 2103
- Delaware Valley Djam / Tchavolo Swing / October Djam / WVUD / 2103
- Delaware Valley Djam / Nuages / October Djam / WVUD / 2103
- Delaware Valley Djam / I Can’t Give You Anything But Love / October Djam / WVUD / 2103