happy birthday, django!

Queen City Hot Club at the 2009 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival

Don’t we love those nice round anniversaries that end in “0”? Well, sure. And this weekend marks a big one, Saturday is the 100th birth anniversary of one of the greatest guitarists ever.

Jean “Django” Reinhardt was born to a Belgian Gypsy family on January 23rd, 1910. He played violin and banjo (his earliest known recordings made at around age 18 are with the banjo) but he’s best known as the guitar-playing pioneer of the Gypsy jazz or Gypsy “swing” style.

This music is crazy-great, whether it’s Django’s “Djangology” solos or later collaborations with violinst StĂ©phane Grappelli and the Hot Club de France, or the occasional partnerships with other jazz folks like Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins.

Django’s legacy is multifaceted. His original tunes like Nuages and Swing 42 are beloved standards, while the gypsy jazz style he created has influenced every successive generation of performers. And then there’s the “hot club” heritage, with towns as disparate as Detroit, Austin, Montreal, San Francisco, and – yes, Paris too – all claiming a Hot Club of their own to perpetuate the picking, strumming, hard-swinging, good times Django sound.

Burlington is the home of the newly formed Queen City Hot Club, and I’m happy to say they live up to every bit of their name in carrying out the considerable ‘hot club’ legacy. Ready to celebrate Django’s 100th? You can catch Jim Stout, Jim McCuen & Jared Volpe of the Queen City Hot Club at the downtown Bluebird Tavern in a set tomorrow (Friday) night, 9-11pm.

Happy birthday, Django!

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