All about Django Reinhardt

Jean Baptiste Reinhardt – the Man

On the 23rd of January, 1910, Manouche, traveling in Liberchies (Belgium), the mother Laurence "Négro" Reinhardt, and the father Jean-Baptiste Eugene Weiss, in French Vées, give birth to their son Jean-Baptiste Reinhardt. Their traveling life makes it impossible for him to go to school, and he does not learn to read and write. Later, he teaches himself, in order to be able to write autographs and sign contracts. The father, a violinist, is the band leader of a "gypsy band", already at that time including guitars, and he performs in various hotels in Paris. Jean-Baptiste’s sister Sarah Tsango plays the piano, his brother Joseph "Nin-Nin" plays the guitar, and Jean-Baptiste "Django" plays the violin, later also the banjo and the guitar.

In 1928, on the 1st of November, he is injured on his leg and hand, but nevertheless becomes one of the most important jazz musicians of his time, known particularly for his own technique of playing the guitar. He is mainly famous for his ensemble "Quintette du Hot Club de France".

At first, he lives on his family’s campsite with his wife Bella and their son, in 1943 he marries his partner of many years, Sophie "Naguine" Ziegler and they raise their son, born one year after the marriage, together. In 1952 he withdraws from the music business, and on May 16th, 1953, he unexpectedly dies in Fontainebleu because of an heart attack.

In his free time, he played cards and games of chance, went fishing and - what else - made music. His success at games of chance was similar to his success in music. Singer and guitarist Georges Ulmer remembers: "Django is the greatest gambler. Any game, he watches awhile, slowly starts, and in no time, he’ s in it." Together with his brother Joseph they are an invincible team. Is it possible that music and games of chance have some fundamental feature in common?

He is described as an untamed, impulsive and generous person, with a penchant for billiards and games of chance. This passion for gambling and his zest did not leave time for sleep. He developed his own style from various contemporary music trends, without taking fashion very much in account. Subsequent generations of jazz guitarists, and guitarist in general, will have problems to avoid his technical and artistic heritage.

ROMBASE © by Peter Wagner

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