Image via Wikipedia
A square near where Reinhardt's family parked their caravans was named after the jazz master, and the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, was on hand to do the honors for Reinhardt. “He was a Roma, he was a rebel," said Delanoe, "and he is someone who represents the culture of traveling people.”
"Behind Delanoe, a band made up mainly of Reinhardt's descendants played east European-tinged gypsy pieces."
And it is a relief to know that the music carried the crowd away and
"the gathering of press and fedora-hatted relatives, however, could hardly sit still and soon crowded the stage to dance." --Reuters
What could be more appropriate than to celebrate the King of Gypsy Jazz with happy feet?
Reinhardt was born in Belgium and grew up in gypsy camps close to Paris. He was a guitar prodigy but also played banjo and violin from an early age--and played professionally at Bal-musette halls in Paris. The real kicker is that at age 18 he was badly burned in a terrible fire in his caravan, and doctors thought he'd never play guitar again. But he somehow retrained himself to play all of his guitar solos with only two fingers of his fret hand along with his lightning quick right.From Wikipedia:
With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he cofounded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek as "one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz." Reinhardt's most popular compositions have become jazz standards, including "Minor Swing", "Belleville", "Djangology", "Swing '42" and "Nuages" (French for "Clouds").
There was a slew of musical events staged around Paris to honor Reinhardt, including an "Hommage à Django Reinhardt" at the Le Théâtre du Châtelet, as well as at many of the jazz clubs. Beginning January 19th, the Alhambra began their LES NUITS MANOUCHES to salute the man. Since it was about the time of the Lone Wolf's birthday--and I think he might have introduced me to Django--I bought tickets a couple of months ago for us to go.
We had been to the Alhambra to see Lila Downs a while back. I liked the venue and loved her show.
The tickets I bought were to see Django's grandson, David Reinhardt, perform. If we couldn't see the master, why not the family's younger generation?
The Lone Wolf, Bret, and I went early because I like to get extra good seats. And we would've been the first in line if this couple hadn't smugly slipped in front of us. She had a card with a wheel chair, but we didn't see any wheels.
David Reinhardt and his drummer and key-boardist came out, sat down, and began playing their hearts out. We were wowed by Reinhardt's talent--as well as that of his musicians.
This gifted Reinhardt, who's only 23 years old, was also a bit shy. He talked quietly to his colleagues as well as to the audience, but he was not shy at all with his strings.
The trio played jazz standards, including an energetic Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," as well as some of his grandfather's music. Their own compositions--as well as their style--was cool and moody, not really like his grandfather's jazz. But a pleasure for us to hear!
The Lone Wolf loved it. He left with a big smile on his face.
From NPR Music (with sound clips):
Pianist John Lewis led one of the most popular jazz groups of all time, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and one of his most popular compositions is titled "Django." Lewis wrote the tune after learning of Reinhardt's death in 1953.
"He was the first great European jazz musician," the late pianist said in 2000. "Really, music was it — that was him. He and music were synonymous. This man was literally playing himself into greatness. 'You're going to pay attention to me!' "
Reinhardt was an inspiration for many musicians living today.
23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953
Happy Birthday, Django! With love, from us to you!
And is there music in your soul?
Unless otherwise noted, all photos taken by Beth Arnold.
---Beth Arnold in Paris