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Django Reinhardt

Biography

Jazz was forever changed when Django Reinhardt heard his first Louis Armstrong record. Reinhardt, a Belgian born Gypsy, revolutionized jazz guitar playing after losing the use of two fingers in a fire (try that at home, Joe Satriani). He invented the harmonically intense but joyous gypsy jazz style that captivated the public and influenced generations of musicians -- even Western Swing tips its hat to him. Americans like Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter were lining up to play with him, but violinist Stephane Grapelli was his greatest collaborator. They fed off of each other's solos and constantly inspired one another. Towards the end of his short life, he continued to experiment by embracing Bop and the electric guitar. Stephane Grapelli and such soundtracks as Steve Martin's L.A. Story kept his sound alive through out the decades. He was the first non-American jazz innovator and he remains the greatest.
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