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Django Reinhardt - Know the Man, Play the Music Book/CD (Hardcover) (Fretmaster) Spiral-bound – February 1, 2005
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About the Author
Rod Fogg became guitar obsessed as a teenager and now plays and teaches in and around London. He has several CDs out on Jazznik. Dave Gelly has been writing on jazz for more than 30 years. He was named Jazz Writer of the Year in the 1999 British Jazz Awards.
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It is broken into two parts. The first part is a detailed biography of Django, containing about every factoid of his life you might ever want to know. There is great insight into the development of his music and his particular style. I found it to be well written and fascinating. It reads easily.
The second part is an analysis of several of his best-known works, written out in tablature and performed for you on the included CD. I haven't yet delved into this part, but I can see it's laid out well. I love owning this book.
It is the kind of book that would make one of those great and thoughtful gifts for the aspiring Gypsy Jazz guitarist or the person interested in Reinhardt's life story.
That's about where it ends, though. The recording, while technically a decent recording, offers no insight to Django's phrasing or timing of the notes. There are entire passages where it felt like Rod was just playing the notes and nothing more. Other times, notes were missed, played sloppily or not picked up by the mic, leading to a sloppy, unrehearsed sound. There's an entire passage in the Minor Swing recording where Rod plays the most boring note-for-note reiteration of his transcription despite Django's clear swing rhythm and sliding techniques on the same passage in the recording it was transcribed from.
Overall, this is a great book to get as a bio, and a pretty good one for the transcriptions. However, don't try to learn from the CD, because Django would probably be rolling over in his grave. Learn from the master himself, and those that came after him (Fapy Lafertin, The Rosenberg Trio, etc.). They are the real deal, and they will play it right. Copy them, not Rod.
I would suggest getting the Django Definitive tab book next if you choose to be lazy and not read music...and of course start listening to Django 24 hours a day. Despite what one reviewer wrote, there are some really good recordings out there... the proper box and the 10cd box on ebay are both pretty good deals with listenable tunes.