Django Reinhardt Biography

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Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt is known as one of the most talented jazz guitar soloist and as France’s most famous jazz performer. Django Reinhardt was born Jean-Baptiste Reinhardt on January 23, 1910 in Liverchies, Belgium. His parents were Jean-Eugene who was a musician and entertainer, and La Belle Laurence (also known as Negros because of her dark beauty) who was a dancer. He was born in the back of the caravan, which the Manouche gypsy family lived. His parents named him “Django” in his Romany name, which means “I awake” (Dregni, pp1-3).

At a young age Reinhardt was introduced to music. Django’s father, Jean, was very talented and supported the family playing music on various instruments while his wife danced. On the back of the caravan where they lived, Jean had a stage where he and his wife performed musicals. Django’s first instrument was the violin which is very popular among gypsies because of the ease of transporting. He had no formal education in any school for music or reading: he was illiterate. His fathers as well as his Uncle Guiligou are credited with teaching him his early musical abilities. At the age of twelve he was given a banjo by a Manouche gypsy friend who saw how much he enjoyed music. Django played the banjo constantly which led to swollen bleeding fingertips. After witnessing how well her son played the banjo, Negro bought him a real guitar. Django, along with his cousin played the guitar on street corners and eventually into Paris (Dregni, pp 13-14)

When Django was five years old his father left his mother to go live with his previous wife and children. Django would still see his father when they traveled and crossed paths. Soon after receiving the guitar, Django would venture to Porte de Clignancourt to the see his father and Uncle performing in a dance hall called Chez Clodoche. Django would hide under the tables and listen to the music. He was mostly interested in his Uncle Guiligou’s guitar playing and would watch as...
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