Sunday, July 18, 2010

Django Reinhardt

Here's the deal: I am totally not impressed by other guitar players. With the exception of Stanley Jordan, Robert Johnson, Jerry Garcia, and perhaps 2 or 3 others that I'm can't remember right now, it's really unusual for me to sit up and take notice of a guitarist; I've been playing myself for over a quarter of a century, and while I don't consider myself particularly great at it, I know too much about the mechanics of the instrument to be really blown away by anyone who isn't a player of really exceptional passion, technique, and/or imagination. What I'm attempting to get at is this - when I tell you that a guitar player knocked me out of my chair, I'm talking about something that has happened (maybe) a dozen times in my life.

Such was the case yesterday when I was surfing around YouTube and I saw some performance footage of jazz great Django Reinhardt for the first time.

There I was, sitting in our living room with my 4 year old daughter, playing with our new laptop while she was watching cartoons, watching mostly classic rock-type videos when I got a sudden random urge to see if they had any Django footage. I had heard his records on several different occasions and had heard the amazing story of how he had badly injured two of his left-hand fingers in a fire and still managed to play, but I realized I had never seen the man play. I did a quick search, found this video, got to about the 2:50 mark on the clip (where he plays a particularly blinding run during his solo), and literally started YELLING (much to my daughter's chagrin), "WHAT?!? WHAT?!?"

I mean, is that one of the most amazing things (and humbling) you've ever seen in your life or what? If that doesn't inspire you, I guess I don't know what will.

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