From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt (January 23, 1910 – May 16, 1953) was a Belgian Sinti jazz guitarist. He was one of the first prominent jazz musicians to be born in Europe, and one of the most renowned jazz guitarists of all time. His most renowned tunes include "My Sweet", "Minor Swing", "Tears", "Belleville", "Djangology" and "Nuages" (French, meaning "Clouds"). His name is pronounced 'jāngō rīnhärt', 'zhang-oh', or 'zhon-go'.
Influence on and admiration by other musicians
Many musicians have expressed admiration for Reinhardt, including guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, classical guitarist Julian Bream; country artist Chet Atkins, who placed Reinhardt #1 on a list of the ten most influential guitarists of the 20th century (he placed himself fifth); Latin rocker Carlos Santana; blues legend B.B. King; the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia; Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi; Jimi Hendrix; Shawn Lane; Stevie Ray Vaughan; Derek Trucks; Mark Knopfler; Les Paul; Joe Pass; Peter Frampton; Denny Laine; Jeff Beck; Jon Larsen; Steve Howe; Charlie Christian; George Benson; Wes Montgomery; Martin Taylor; Tchavolo Schmitt; Stochelo Rosenberg; Biréli Lagrène; John Jorgenson; Michael Angelo Batio; Richard Thompson; Robert Fripp; and Jeff Martin. Willie Nelson wore a Django Reinhardt T-shirt on tour in Europe in 2002, stating in an interview that he admired Django's music and ability. The British guitarist Diz Disley plays in a style based on Reinhardt's technique and he collaborated on numerous projects with Stéphane Grappelli.
Musicians have paid tribute to Reinhardt in many other ways, such as by invoking his name in their own work or personal life. Jimi Hendrix is said to have named one of his bands the Band of Gypsys because of Django's music. A number of musicians named their sons Django in reference to Reinhardt, including David Crosby, former Slade singer Noddy Holder, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richard Durrant, and also actors Nana Visitor and Raphael Sbarge. Jazz musician Django Bates and singer-songwriter Django Haskins were named after him.
Songs written in Reinhardt's honor include "Django," composed by John Lewis, which has become a jazz standard performed by musicians such as Miles Davis. The Modern Jazz Quartet titled one of their albums Django in honor of him. The Allman Brothers Band song Jessica was written by Dickey Betts in tribute to Reinhardt — he wanted to write a song that could be played using only two fingers. This aspect of the artist's work also motivated Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, who was inspired by Reinhardt to keep playing guitar after a factory accident that cost him two fingertips. Composer Jon Larsen has composed several crossover concerts featuring Django inspired music together with symphonic arrangements, most famous is "White Night Stories" (2002) and "Vertavo" (1996).
In 2005, Django Reinhardt ended on the 66th place in the election of The Greatest Belgian (De Grootste Belg) in Flanders and on the 76th place in the Walloon version of the same competition Le plus grand Belge.
Reinhardt in popular culture
- The 2007 video game BioShock uses a selection of his songs in the soundtrack.
- Reinhardt is the idol of the fictional 1930s guitarist Emmet Ray (played by Sean Penn) in the Woody Allen film Sweet and Lowdown(1999). In the film, it is related how Ray passed out upon meeting Django.
- Reinhardt is portrayed in the opening sequence of the 2003 animated film Les Triplettes de Belleville. The third and fourth fingers of the cartoon Reinhardt are considerably smaller than the fingers used to play the guitar.
- He is portrayed by guitarist John Jorgenson in the movie Head in the Clouds.
- The song Johnny Depp plays in the river party scene in Lasse Hallström's Chocolat was Django and Grappelli's hit, "Minor Swing".
- Reinhardt's music has been used in the soundtrack of many films, including the oracle scene in The Matrix; Rhythm Futur (95 minute mark) and I Can't Give You Anything But Love (41 minute mark) in The Aviator; Nuages in Gattaca; the score for Louis Malle's 1974 movie, Lacombe Lucien;the background for the Steve Martin movie L.A. Story; the background for a number of Woody Allen movies, including Stardust Memories, where Woody's character plays a Django record; Honeysuckle Rose in the background of the Central Park carriage ride scene in Kate and Leopold; during the Juilliard audition in the movie Daltry Calhoun; Minor Swing and Blues Clair in Metroland for which Mark Knopfler wrote the score; his rendition of Brazil can be heard on the "Something's Gotta Give" soundtrack; and Minor Swing in the scene in the painter's house in the Italian film "I Cento Passi". Reinhardt's work also figures heavily into B. Monkey and The Pallbearer.
- Reinhardt is the idol of the character Arvid in the movie Swing Kids. The character's left hand is smashed by a member of the Hitler Jugend (HJ), but is inspired to continue by Reinhardt's example.
- An extended discussion of Reinhardt takes place among several characters in the novel From Here to Eternity by James Jones.
- The character Andre Custine has a double bass that had been played by Reinhardt in the novel Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds.
- The 2002 video game Mafia used many of his songs on the soundtrack.
- Sealab 2021 paid tribute to Django in the episode "All That Jazz". In it, Captain Murphy comments on a drink dispensed from the Bebop Cola machine: "Ahh, Mango Reinhardt! The thinking man's pop!"
- Harlan Ellison's short story "Django" is a fantasia about a guitarist, with similarities to Reinhardt.
- The Django web framework, a Python web framework, was named after Reinhardt.
- Author William Kotzwinkle's 1989 collection, The Hot Jazz Trio stars Reinhardt in a surrealistic fantasy also featuring Pablo Picasso.
- In the classic Italian western Django, the titular hero is presumably named after Reinhardt. In the climax of the movies, his hands are smashed by his enemies and he is forced to fire a gun with his wounded hands,
- The song Django from the 1973 Lindsey Buckingham / Stevie Nicks self-titled debut album is a version of the John Lewis standard.
- The song "Muskrat Love" by America (band) makes a comment about Django, though spelled "Jango" in the lyrics.
- The lyrics of the Norwegian song Tanta til Beate by Lillebjørn Nilsen mentions Django several times.
- Brian Dennehy plays a rat named Django in the film Ratatouille, in obvious reference to the musician.
- The song "Feel So Numb" by Rob Zombie on the album "The Sinister Urge" refers to Django.
- Reinhardt is menioned in the short play Sure Thing