Archive for Django Reinhardt

Minor Swing (for the National Day of Belgium)!

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on July 21, 2016 by telescoper

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.

September Song – the Django Reinhardt version

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on September 11, 2014 by telescoper

Summer’s drawing to a close and preparing for the imminent arrival of new intake of students is taking up a lot of my time this week, so I thought I’d just put up something I’ve posted before, in the form of a piece of music that celebrates the genius of Django Reinhardt, the great Belgian-born gypsy guitarist who overcame the terrible  injuries he suffered as a child (in a fire in his caravan) to become one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.  He had a unique style of playing the guitar he invented himself to get around the fact that the third and fourth digits on his left hand were so badly burned he could effectively only use two fingers. He also had an unparalleled gift for melodic improvisation that won him admirers all around the world and across all styles of music. Add him to your list of famous Belgians right away, for he was most certainly a musical genius.

Here he’s playing the beautifully poignant September Song, by Kurt Weill:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September

 

Honeysuckle Rose

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on October 8, 2011 by telescoper

I’m in a vegetative mood today and the old energy levels aren’t high enough to post anything demanding, so I thought I’d put up a piece of music for your entertainment and edification. This was recorded in Paris, on April 28th 1937 and it revolves around a lengthy  tenor saxophone solo by the great Coleman Hawkins. Inspired by his sojourn in Europe, Hawkins returned to New York to record probably the most famous tenor solo ever, on the classic ballad Body and Soul, but this shows a side to his playing that was more familiar to swing era jazz fans. Listen to the drive that he injects into this performance combined with that “heavy” tenor tone, and you’ll understand why he was regarded as the pre-eminent tenor soloist of the 30s.

Other members of the band include Benny Carter who plays the alto solo near the end and who obviously did the arrangement for the four saxophones – nobody else in jazz history has ever managed to get such a biting sound out of small saxophone section as Benny Carter. And if that weren’t enough there’s a bonus in the unmistakeable form of  Django Reinhardt‘s guitar. Enjoy!

September Song

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on September 1, 2010 by telescoper

Well, the summer’s over and soon we’ll be welcoming the new academic year. I thought I’d mark the occasion of the First of September with a piece of music that celebrates the genius of Django Reinhardt, the great Belgian-born gypsy guitarist who overcame the terrible  injuries he suffered as a child (in a fire in his caravan) to become one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.  He had an unparalleled gift for melodic improvisation and a unique style of playing the guitar he invented himself to get around the fact that the third and fourth digits on his left hand were so badly burned he could effectively only use two fingers. Add him to your list of famous Belgians right away!

Here he’s playing the beautifully poignant September Song, by Kurt Weill:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September