When the John Jorgenson Quintet takes the JAS Cafe stage on February 9-10 Cafe regulars will notice a familiar sound and style coming from Jorgenson’s guitar. John is the latest Cafe artist to bring the Django style of playing to the Cafe. All About Jazz describes the Quintet’s performance as “a mix of soulful romance and rollicking celebration, with Jorgenson’s fingers a blur that created avalanches of notes and chords, his dazzling prowess often causes listeners to gasp at the speed and sound…”
Jean “Django” Reinhardt was born in 1910 in a caravan outside the Belgian town of Liberchies to a family of itinerant Romani, known as Gypsies. By age 12 he was serenading cabaret patrons on guitar and bango. When he was 18, the right side of his body and his left hand were horribly burned in an accident. With full use of only the thumb, middle, and index finger of that hand, he invented a new way to play guitar – wide ranging, radical movement on the fretboard coupled with flurries of flatpicked notes.
Moving to Paris in the 1930s, Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. With their swinging fusion of American jazz, Ramani rhythms, and Parisian street singing, the quintet catapulted to worldwide fame with the genre they invented, Gypsy Jazz.
The group split with the advent of World War II. Reinhardt returned to Nazi-occupied France, where he miraculously avoided being sent to one of the death camps that claimed so many Gypsies. After the war, Reinhardt realized a lifelong dream of visiting the US. The trip cemented Reinhardt’s influence on guitar players well beyond the boundaries of jazz.
Django’s influence on the guitar world can hardly be exaggerated. Perhaps Jeff Beck said it best: after running through a list of his inspirations, from Les Paul to Cliff Gallup, he declared, “Of course, it all started with Django.”
Visit us here for more information on tickets for the John Jorgenson Quintet at the JAS Cafe!