Minor Swing (for the National Day of Belgium)!

Not far from the hotel in which I stayed during my visit to Ghent last week is a small but pleasant jazz bar called Minor Swing. I mentioned to some colleagues as we passed by the place that it was clearly named after the tune by Django Reinhardt (who was born in Belgium). In fact it was something of a signature tune for him. Anyway, Radio 3 reminded me this morning that today (21st July)  is Belgian National Day so I thought I’d mark the occasion on this blog by posting a version of Minor Swing that demonstrates Django’s superlative gift for melodic improvisation, together with violinist Stephane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France.

4 Responses to “Minor Swing (for the National Day of Belgium)!”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Amazing that he played like this with a couple of fingers out of action! The Django-Grappelli collaboration is excellent stuff.

  2. After sheet-metal worker Tony Iommi had cut off the tips of his fingers in an accident, a colleague gave him a Django Reinhardt record. At first, he thought it was some sort of cruel joke, as Django was an impressive guitarist and Tony was just starting out, but had given up due to the accident. Then he was told that Django was playing with just two fingers. Iommi decided to revise his decision and helped himself with some home-made prosthetics and, crucially (pun, as always, intended), tuned his guitar lower than normal, which enabled him to go on to a career with Black Sabbath and be regarded as the essential founder of heavy metal.

    • telescoper Says:

      His playing is amazing anyway, even before you consider that the third and fourth fingers of his left hand were paralysed. But whatever you say about the miraculous nature of his technique what always strikes me is his capacity to produce a spontaneous stream of melodic invention.

      • At some level, some people are so musical that the lack of a perfect body is not a big hindrance. There is a horn player who plays with his feet!

        Violinist Reinhard Goebel played the violin for decades right-handed, then switched to playing left-handed due to problems with his left-hand fingers (which were still good enough for holding a bow). This didn’t take long. Obviously, he didn’t re-learn everything, not even the physical aspects, from scratch; it had already been learned and just needed to be switched.

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