I have long been inspired by the “Gypsy Jazz” musicians of the twenties and thirties, specifically Jean “Django” Reinhardt. One might say he invented the Gypsy Jazz style (sometimes called “Hot Jazz” stemming from his home venue, “The Hot Club” in France) and it could very well be all because of his handicap, which I think is quite incredible. As a young man, he was in a fire which literally seared the last two fingers of his left hand together, fingers that are obviously very important to a guitarist. Being greatly inspired by Spanish Folk, Gypsy music from eastern Europe, and American Jazz which was in full swing at the time seemed to have helped lead way to his two finger quick style; it is unmistakable and often replicated. The fact that he worked with his handicap rather than letting it overcome him, much like Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, is simply astounding. If you have yet to hear any of his music, you simply must. Below I have included some of his songs as well as other artists like him including the new wave of more eclectic gypsy jazz revivalists such as Caravan Palace and even DeVotchKa.
Django Reinhardt: “Belleville”:
Django Reinhardt: “Minor Swing”:
Opa Tsupa: “Les Deux Guitares”
And something a little more contemporary:
Caravan Palace: “Jolie Coquine”
Caravan Palace: “Suzy”