This thread is about the guitarist Django Reinhardt. I’ve noticed some influences that I’ll mention below. Feel free to agree or disagree with my comments, and/or say anything you like about Django.
I’ve been listening to his recordings for a long time, much more closely in recent years. I’ve read some interesting things about him. For example, he had a successful career going when he was badly burned in a fire that scarred up one side of his body and, crucially, the ring and little fingers of his fretting (left) hand, which were left shriveled in a tight curl and could not be extended. Doctors told his family they’d have to amputate his leg, they refused and took him home, and, as most of you probably know, he learned to play without those fingers for all but a few situations (fretting treble strings in some chords; look for photos if you’re interested). So, nearly all of his amazing playing was done with just two fingers.
In an interview, Stephane Grappelli recalled their meeting. He said he was playing in some café, in Paris I think, and Django and his brothers/cousins were passing on the sidewalk. Django heard him, stopped and insisted they go inside. They walked right up to the edge of the stage and just stood there in their raincoats (think Bogart in Casablanca), silently watching him. Stephane had no idea who they were or what they wanted, and he said that he felt afraid. I love that story.
Here are some examples of music in which I think I hear the influence of Django and Stephane.
Anton Karas’ soundtrack to The Third Man. Yeah, it’s a zither instead of guitar and I’m guessing swing was common enough for Karas to be influenced by other sources. Still, that sly and outrageously playful quality sounds a lot like Django.
Alain Romans’ soundtracks to two films directed by Jacques Tati: Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot and Mon Oncle. I see online that he recorded with Django and Stephanne, so he may have been influenced by their music. The soundtracks don’t sound as wild and colorful as Django’s playing, though, and I don’t recall an emphasis on virtuosism, so maybe there’s no connection.
Greg Lake often played a little bass fill that sounds a lot like Django’s strumming, and I’ve seen online that he openly acknowledged Django’s influence. Although I’ve cued these tracks to start just before the fill, there are several examples throughout both. Check ‘em out from the beginning; they’re really good!