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Intégrale Django Reinhardt, vol. 20 (1953) - Pour que ma vie demeure [Inclus compléments 1928-1947]

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Album Review

Volume 20 in the "complete" recordings of Django Reinhardt as compiled and reissued by Fremeaux & Associates opens with 20 of his last-known studio, live, and broadcast recordings. A short Parisian radio interview, during which Reinhardt discusses the fine art of fishing, leads directly into a deliciously languid, all-too-brief rendition of "Yesterdays." Reinhardt's ultra-modern approach to "Crazy Rhythm," that slaphappy fox trot from 1928, was to transmute the melodic line into a wonderfully strange mode whereby Roger Wolfe Kahn's hedonistic hit became an eccentric study in bop-edged obtuse angles, almost like something out of the mind of Lennie Tristano. Bearing in mind the North Indian origins of the Roma or Gypsy people, it is fascinating that Django Reinhardt named one of his last compositions for Sri Hanuman, the great Hindu monkey god who represents dexterity, discipline, and utmost devotion. "Anouman" is a hypnotically beautiful melody, its tropes suggesting early Charles Mingus, with alto saxophonist Hubert Fol even sounding like John la Porta. As the veritable last testament of a master musician, "Anouman" has achieved the status of an archetypal opus and is still carefully studied chord for chord by guitarists worldwide. In honor of Reinhardt the name Anouman was bestowed upon a certain breed of finely crafted acoustic guitars specially designed for "gypsy jazz" virtuosi. The name has also been adopted by a West Coast U.S. "Gypsy Jazz" ensemble. Here at the very twilight of his creative career Reinhardt had evolved far beyond conventional parameters of jazz improvisation. Jamming out, sitting in live with Tony Proteau's big band, or leading the very last of his intimate studio groups, the guitarist left a trail of 78s, aircheck acetates, and early LP tracks that still sound startlingly fresh and exciting. Twelve encore performances are included, revisiting sessions from July 1928 through October 1947. While Reinhardt's presence on five of these rarities has not been firmly established, such historical tidbits are valuable and entertaining. Highlights in this category include four bracing interludes for accordion with instrumental accompaniment, perky Micheline Day singing a pair of French pop tunes, and test pressings from sessions by the Hot Club Quintette and bands led by trumpeters Freddy Taylor and Arthur Briggs. There is also a rare four-and-a-half-minute jam on "Ride Red Ride" culled from a 1946 Reinhardt/Ellington concert at the Chicago Civic Opera House, with 24 previously excised bars of music carefully edited back in. Fifteen additional tracks document the adventures of Reinhardt's "family, pals, admirers and even his rivals." Foremost in this lineup was brother Joseph Reinhardt, a rhythm guitar mainstay in the Hot Club de France and a fine leader and soloist in his own right. Fans of the jazz accordion will want to tap into this part of the compilation for first-rate performances by squeeze box kings Gus Viseur and Tony Murena. The spirit of Reinhardt is impossible to define, contain, or confine. Given the mercurial nature of his busy existence there can never be any such thing as a "complete" edition of his recorded works, but until more material is discovered this is about as thorough of a survey as anybody has been able to assemble and present to the public.

Biography

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...
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