The Sunshine Of Your Smile
Believe It Beloved
Chasing Shadows << sound clip
I've Had My Moments
Some Of These Days
I Got Rhythm
The Sheik Of Araby << sound clip
It Don't Mean A Thing (If lt Ain't Got That Swing)
Miss Annabelle Lee << sound clip
Tea For Two
My Melancholy Baby
The Younger Generation
Django Reinhardt ranks even yet as amongst the most
creative of European jazz musicians. He was born on
23 January 1910 into a wandering gypsy family on the
Belgian frontier. Music, particularly guitar music,
was part of everyday life and at twelve Django, self-taught,
mastered the banjo-guitar in an amazingly short time.
He was hooked.
Within a year or two he was accomplished enough to
play at various Parisian nightclub and cafe gigs,
his absence of sight-reading abilities proving no
obstacle. In these early days Django acted mainly
as accompanist to accordionists like Guerino, Alexander
and Jean Vaissade and his opportunities to play jazz
or standards were strictly limited to informal out-of-hours
sessions. An offer from the famous British bandleader
Jack Hylton to join his orchestra was forthcoming,
but in the event never materialised.
Tragedy struck in November 1928 when Django suffered
serious burns to his right leg and left hand in a
caravan fire. These injuries caused him to be bedridden
for eighteen months during which time the leg healed
very well but the third and fourth fingers of the
hand (his fret hand) remained virtually paralysed.
During his long recuperation Django had to work out
a new way of playing his beloved guitar and with a
great deal of determined application and persistence
he not only became a greater player than before but
in so doing formulated an original new style. His
appetite for jazz too had been further whetted when
a friend played for him some of the recent American
recordings by Louis Armstrong, Joe Venuti and Eddie
Lang et al.
Back on the scene during 1930, Django teamed up awhile
with a young Jean Sablon, playing 'Eddie Lang' to
Sablon's 'Bing Crosby'.
The creation of The Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France
happened almost by accident in the dressing room of
the Hotel Claridge in Paris on the Champs-Elysees.
Django and Stephane Grappelli were working in the
same band there and one evening before a performance
Django was plucking at his guitar when Stephane joined
in on violin. Before long bassist Louis Vola added
his contribution as did Django's brother Joseph on
rhythm guitar - et voila! There you (almost) have
it. This group, with the addition of a second rhythm
guitarist (originally Roger Chaput) were adopted by
the Hot Club of France who presented the quintet at
a Salle Pleyel concert on the same bill as Coleman
Hawkins. From this occasion they became known as The
Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France and with Stephane
Grappelli and Django Reinhardt as its nucleus flourished
until the outbreak of war.
Just as Eddie Lang had been Django's main influence,
so Joe Venuti was Stephane's. By the time of the formation
of The Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France however,
both musicians had developed their own individual
Additionally, Stephane was an accomplished pianist
and can be heard in this capacity on several recordings,
though none in this collection. Django gave Stephane
and the other quintet members a hard time by all accounts
with his unreliability and predilection to 'disappearing'
for a few days if the mood took him. Despite these
difficulties, Stephane's steadying influence kept
the group together, earning our eternal gratitude
into the bargain.
This collection spans the QHCF's complete recorded
output, from the first session in December 1934 to
the last (with Grappelli and Reinhardt as common denominators)
in August 1939. From the outset they showed themselves
to be a highly polished, accomplished, and what is
most important, compelling unit. The first label they
recorded for was Odeon (two sides), but the company
refused to release the record on the grounds that
it was too 'modern'! Ultraphone then recorded the
first of their commercially released sides in December
1934, unwisely letting the quintet go after a year.
For the remainder of their existence they recorded
for Polydor, Pathe and Decca.
By 1939 the QHCF was going from strength to strength;
both Django and Stephane had become more daring and
adventurous and the rhythm section's backing was more
subtle. The outbreak of war on 3 September found the
unit in London. Stephane remained for the duration;
Django risked taking a boat back to France. The great
days of The Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France were
During the war, in occupied France, Django kept a
low profile. He continued to record, including some
superb sides in Brussels in the spring of 1942 for
the Rythme label (unfortunately pressed on inferior
material). In 1946 he travelled to the USA to take
part in a series of concerts with Duke Ellington.
Playing an amplified guitar for the first time, the
concerts were only a moderate success. Back in France
his preoccupation with bop and in keeping up to date
seems to have dampened his creative spark a little.
Additionally, the influence of the late American guitarist
Charlie Christian now held sway with the post-war
generation. From 1946, firstly in London and later
in Paris there were reunions between Django and Stephane
but, with a few exceptions, these had lost their pre-war
Django died, aged only 43, in 1953 but his rich legacy
of recordings proves time and time again that he was
not only a virtuoso but a genius.