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The Best of Django Reinhardt

68 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 19, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This new compilation from Blue Note culls 18 classic tracks from the gypsy jazz guitarist's seminal 1936-1948 period! Includes Nuages; Montmartre; St. Louis Blues; Limehouse Blues; Django's Tiger; Lady Be Good , and more.

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Django Reinhardt was both the first great jazz-guitar soloist and the first European jazz musician to have a significant influence on American musicians. Just as Earl Hines had found a way to transfer Louis Armstrong's assertive solo style to the piano, Reinhardt did it with the acoustic guitar, mixing inventive melodic improvisation with a decorative gypsy-guitar idiom and vigorous rhythm. He did it most often with the Hot Club of France, a quintet including violinist Stephane Grappelli, two rhythm guitarists, and a bassist that created its own distinctive style, a lightly propulsive mix that was an ideal setting for Django's mix of drive, invention, and charm. The recordings here range from 1936 to 1948 and showcase Reinhardt with the Hot Club, clarinetist Hubert Rostaing, and trumpeter Rex Stewart. Included is a brilliant solo performance of his "Naguine." It's an excellent introduction to one of the most original voices in jazz of the period, to a fine composer as well as a unique guitarist. --Stuart Broomer

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 19, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B000005H2Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,080 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 148 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This CD is probably the best way to discover the music of Django Reinhardt. Though the recordings are from the '30s, they are cleaned up nicely by Blue Note's superb remastering. Most of the tunes were written or co-written by Django, and they showcase the brilliant playing of both Django and violinist Stephane Grappelli. Django was not only an amazing soloist, but an incredible rhythm player. Listen to his comping around Grappelli and the horns. He had so much energy his acoustic guitar cut through the rest of the band. Like most musical geniuses, he made it sound natural and effortless. I will repeat what I have stated elsewhere: Django is to '30s jazz guitar what Jimi Hendrix is to '60s rock guitar, a diamond-in-the-rough genius in a class all by himself. There have been none like him, before or since. This CD is an essential part of any jazz collection.
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This "best of" compilation provides a good sampling of Django Reinhardt's recordings over the course of his career, which makes it a good place to start for someone who's not yet familiar with this amazing guitarist (and his equally great partner on violin, Stephane Grappelli). In addition to some great prewar Hot Club of France selections, it also includes some representative recordings made during the war years, while Grappelli was stranded in England while Reinhardt was in France. Still, in the case of Django Reinhardt, any "best of" collection has to leave out vastly more than it includes, and the tunes that are left out include much of the best acoustic guitar playing ever recorded, along with brilliant back-and-forth improvising between Reinhardt and Grappelli. Personally I think it might be worth it to just go ahead and get the wonderful 5-CD set, "The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order," but if you'd rather start with just a single CD, just consider it a sampling and don't hesitate to check out some of Django's other recordings later. In any case, when it comes to Django Reinhardt CDs, you can hardly go wrong no matter which ones you choose.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful By David Bradley on January 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
If I could change one piece of the general perception of Django Reinhardt, it would be the "Jazz Master" label, which implies to too many people that this is stuffy concert hall music.
Reinhardt was thE jazz guitar master, but his records are damn good fun. Like all the best jazz, it's overflowing with emotion but, more often than not, that emotion is witty, boisterous excitement.
Don't limit yourself to just this Reinhardt CD. Considering the point in history when he was at his artistic peak, his music was generally well recorded, and several producers/engineers/labels have made great efforts to clean up the sound. If nothing else, check out the 5-CD "box set" (not really a box, but 5 great CDs shrinkwrapped together). While my Reinhardt collection is hardly complete, I have yet to come across a less-than-excellent recording of this wonderful music.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gregory M. Wasson on May 25, 2008
Format: MP3 Music
These selections were originally released on LP (with the same bright yellow album cover) in the 1960's. What made the album special then continues to make it special now - with the exception of of three cuts, all feature Django on electric guitar (a hollow-bodied acoustic with an electric pick-up). The cuts are all from the late-40's and early-50's after the break-up of the original and justly celebrated "Quintet of the Hot Club of France" featuring Django, with the great Stephane Grapelly on violin.

When most people think of Django Reinhardt at his best, they think of the period between 1935 until the outbreak of war in 1939 permanently broke up the original Quintet. Stephane Grappelli, who was gay, understandably fled soon-to-be occupied France to England to wait out the war, while Reinhardt chose to stay with his gypsy compatriots in the wagon camps on the outskirts of Paris. During the war Django, despite the round-up of gypsies throughout occupied France, continued to enjoy the adulation of the many Parisian jazz fans (along with more than a few Nazi soldiers) who flocked to hear him in dark cramped "bal musette" nightclubs and large auditoriums alike.

The occupation of France by the Nazis paradoxically opened up new avenues of artistic expression for the musician whose fellow "Romanies" were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps in Poland and Germany. Without the confining structure of the Quintet, and the familiar interplay between Django and Stephane, Reinhardt was free to explore other styles and instruments. It was during this time that he took a serious interest in what was then an exotic instrument - the "electric" guitar.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jolene M. Kladouris on December 11, 1999
Format: Audio CD
There isn't a single note wasted. Not a collection, however, for those whose tastes in jazz and blues lean toward the 'pop' styles. Reinhardt's talent defies description. A must have collection; a true representation of jazz in the Jazz Age.
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37 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Cordes on January 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
After seeing Woody Allen's *Sweet and Lowdown* I went in search of Django Reinhardt (I didn't really believe a name like that could exist)and received this wonderful surprise. The sounds of the 20's and 30's have never sounded better! An added pleasure is the pleasure of Stephane Grappelli ... it just doesn't get better than this.
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