garthsj

"Django" Biography

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Just received Dregni´s biography of Django as a present from a good friend.

Now on my pile of "next readings".

Did you finally get it, brownie?

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Django's music has outlived 6 generations of critics. Need we say more?

I've been listening to him and Mr. Grappelli again and getting hit in the heart the way I did when, as a spry teen, I first took home an LP with a red cover reading Hot Club de France. I still have it, I still play it. Same with Charlie Christian. They both sound more vital and fresher than ever. There's something about playing music in times of war or on the eve of war---verboten music at that---that adds an extra intense dimension (some would say desperation): get-it-while-you-can. I imagine the feeling in the speakeasies were the same, or the bars and entertainment way stations during the Depression were somewhat akin.

I don't have any memorable Django stories, but I like repeating Jim Hall's comment re Christian:

'When I was a kid I heard Charlie Christian. It sounded good and I wanted to do it.

Thursday I heard Charlie Christian. It sounded good and I wanted to do it'.

My favorite line of his re Christian (sorry to get off the Django tip, but this is funny) was something like when he was a kid in Cleveland discovering jazz he:

'took home an album from the library, the Benny Goodman Sextet. I was so afraid someone was gonna see it and think it was a dirty book I spent the entire busride with my arm covering the word Sex---'

Edited by fasstrack

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Just received Dregni´s biography of Django as a present from a good friend.

Now on my pile of "next readings".

Did you finally get it, brownie?

No. Not yet, at least.

While making some progress with the cleanup of my records and books, located the two Django biographies I had before, the Charles Delauney 'Django, Mon Frere', and the Roger Spautz 'Django Reinhardt, Mythe et Réalité'. The Spautz uses widely material from the Delauney but adds some reminiscences from Louis Vola, the bass player who was the first jazz musician to hear Django!

Rereading these kept me from delving into additional Django books...

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This will have to be a truncated report, because Dregni's book pretty much lives or dies on the accuracy of its French scene/Gypsy life background and foreground, and I don't have enough independent knowledge to judge those matters. In other areas, as I said above, odd glitches appear. For instance, on p. 255 Bobby Jaspar is identified as one of a group of "African American expatriates," and p. 254 Roy Eldridge is a "bebopper." Apparently, jazz as we know it is not Dregni's home ground.

Apart from the Bobby Jaspar thing, he calls Sacha Distel's guitar style "pure commercialism". IIRC Distel played very much in a Jimmy Raney/Tal Farlow vein, which I wouldn't call "commercial". The jacket shows the author holding an old Selmer guitar and the short bio says he writes for Vintage Magazine, so that may explain it.

Other than that, I haven't read the whole thing, but I was surprised by the detailed account of the fire in Django's caravan.

F

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