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Django Reinhardt Biography
 
Born Jean-Baptiste Reinhardt in 1910, Django spent his early years traveling throughout Europe with his community of gypsies, until in his early teens when they settled outside of Paris. Django, in the footsteps of his father, first took interest in the violin but after a neighbor gave him a banjo-style guitar, he found work playing the guitar inside Paris's Dance Clubs.
 
While settling to bed inside a trailer with his wife, Django accidentally lit a fire that engulfed the couple’s trailer. Although they both survived the fire, Django severely burned his left hand. After recovering, Reinhardt was unable to play the violin and was forced to relearn the guitar without the use of two of his fingers.  What developed was a unique method of chord playing that without question influenced his individual sound and wowed musicians with the ability to play scales with only two working fingers.
 
Django continued playing in the clubs of Paris and became increasingly inspired by American jazz, specifically the guitar and violin duets by Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti. In 1934, he met violinist Stéphane Grappelli and soon formed the band "Le Quintette du Hot Club de France."
 
The group, which included Django's brother Joseph, Roger Chaput and Louis Vola, played a variety of American standards and original compositions written in the Lang/Venuti style with Django's unique gypsy flair. The group's signature sound was Reinhardt's joyously swinging solos through a combination of multiple rhythm guitar parts and bass lines. Compositions such as "Minor Swing" and "Nuages" became international hits, thrusting Reinhardt into fame throughout Europe which continued until 1939 when the outbreak of WWII separated the group. Django spent most of the war traveling France and northern Africa in a band with clarinetist Hubert Rostaing.

In 1946, Django traveled across the Atlantic to tour as a guitar soloist with Duke Ellington. Reinhardt began experimenting with the electric guitar on the tour, but the performances were poorly received by the American press and public alike, partly due to Django's inability to find a guitar that suited him. His stay in America was marred by Reinhardt's frustration with his lack of recognition in America, his inability to arrive on-time to the performances, and anger over not being able to meet Bebop legend Dizzy Gillespie.
 
When Django returned to Europe, he settled with his wife Naguine and their family outside of Paris, rarely recording but continuing to tour and even reuniting with Grappelli on occasion.
 
On the morning of May 16th, 1953, Django Reinhardt collapsed and died of unknown causes. Django is arguably Europe's most influential Jazz musician and certainly a man's whose unique personality and unparallel inventiveness have made him one of the defining sounds of Jazz to this day.
 
 
Babik Reinhardt Biography
 
Babik Reinhardt, son of Jazz legend Django Reinhardt, was born 1944, nine years before his father’s sudden death. Django spent the time he had with his young son trying to teach Babik the piano and subsequently taught his child nothing of the instrument that made him a world-renowned icon. He did however inherit a guitar from father and was taught to play by his mother and cousins.
 
Babik's first recordings were rough, but he quickly found a jazz-fusion style distinct from his famous father. He continued to release albums with a variety of groups and musicians throughout the 1970's and 80's, most notably with the Fernando Martin group and "Anniversary Concert" with his father's partner, Stéphane Grappelli, and Didier Lockwood.  Aside from his recording and performing career, Babik composed musical scores for the French motion pictures, Le Prix du Silence and Mohammad Bertrand Duval.
 
Although his style clearly differed from Django's, Babik continually performed at Django Reinhardt and Gypsy festivals, generally opting to perform "hot club," gypsy-style jazz his father played rather then his own Chicago influenced gypsy music. He created and organized the DJANGO D’OR festival and competition held annually at "Samois sur Seine" in France. The festival has drawn influential guitarists and musicians from around the world and continues successfully today.
 
On November 13th, 2001, Babik suffered a heart attack in Cannes. With a respect for his heritage, Babik lived outside the shadow of his father, achieving his own accomplishments with a distinct sense of individuality.
 
 
Biréli Lagrène Biography

Born in 1966 near Strasbourg, France into a community of gypsies, guitarist Biréli Lagrène became increasingly well known as a child prodigy, performing for the first time at age 4. He immediately began to develop a style that clearly emphasized his roots.

By his teenage years, Lagrène was playing Europe's gypsy music festivals, impressing audiences with stylish melodies and an innate sense of swing, as well as touring with Stéphane Grappelli, longtime partner to his idol Django Reinhardt.
 
Later that same year, Routes to Django, Biréli's premiere album was released and elevated Lagrène as the latest in the long succession of jazz swing guitarists. The album was recorded live and consisted mostly of a collection of reworked Reinhardt selections that Lagrène later publicly reminisced he spent most of his childhood recreating note by note from 78 inch records.

The album was received with critical acclaim, reconnecting the public with the acoustic swinging jazz sound that caught the ear of a music world in the 1920's and 30's. Two years later, Biréli's follow-up album Biréli 15, was released, further solidifying his new stature not only as the inheritor of the gypsy sound, but also of the swinging jazz tradition of Django.

As Biréli continued to tour around the world with a variety of jazz musicians including Larry Coryell, Benny Goodman, Ginger Baker, and Gil Evans, his musical curiosity grew. His albums became increasingly less in the tradition he had achieved his fame perfecting, and began to encompass a more mainstream jazz sound that also contained high powered rock-fusion, Brazilian rhythms and even some experiments with electronically aided sounds.

Having substantially drifted from the Reinhardt sound, Lagrène spent a large portion of the late 1990's rediscovering his roots.  Albums such as 1995's My Favorite Django and 1998’s Blue Eyes, began Bireli's reconnection, but it was the formation of the Gypsy Project that has satisfied the swinging hot-club era fans longing for the classic sound.