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Djangology 49

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Album Review

Recorded in Rome during the winter of 1949, this excellent collection builds on the earlier Djangology by adding some tracks that were recorded at that Italian session, but were for whatever reason originally omitted from the earlier record. The sound quality varies somewhat from song to song, but what comes through loud and clear is the utter genius of Django Reinhardt. The selections included on Djangology 49 are the last recorded examples of Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli playing together, and there is definitely a sort of competitive fire to their improvisations. Like Charlie Christian, Reinhardt always sounds like he is at least ten years ahead of his bandmates conceptually speaking. For example, his solo in "Honeysuckle Rose" is punctuated with dissonant intervals that recall some of Sonny Rollins' work. Reinhardt's solos always display an excellent sense of arrangement, with his statements building both logically and emotionally to their climax. Reinhardt also displays his phenomenal comping ability on this record, as he often overwhelms or otherwise makes unnecessary the rather pedestrian Italian rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums. Despite the fact that he only had two (maybe two and a half) usable fingers on his left hand, the amount of sound that he was able to generate is truly inspiring, not to mention the fluidity and effortlessness with which he was able to do it. The suspect sound quality of the recording aside (which is due more to tape degradation than to anything else), Djangology 49 captures one of the greatest jazz guitarists in history in some of his greatest performances.


Born: 23 January 1910 in Liberchies, Belgium

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

Django Reinhardt was the first hugely influential jazz figure to emerge from Europe -- and he remains the most influential European to this day, with possible competition from Joe Zawinul, George Shearing, John McLaughlin, his old cohort Stephane Grappelli and a bare handful of others. A free-spirited gypsy, Reinhardt wasn't the most reliable person in the world, frequently wandering off into the countryside on a whim. Yet Reinhardt came up with a unique way of propelling the humble acoustic guitar...
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