Django Reinhardt NY Festival keeps the Gypsy Jazz legend alive

Jean “Django” Reinhardt (1910-1953) was a legendary Belgian-French Gypsy Manouche guitarist.

The Django Reinhardt NY Festival visits Birdland in July and November.

Django Reinhardt NY Festival July 2018

The 2018 Festival is Tuesday – Sunday, July 10 – 15, 2018 with shows at 8:30 & 11 pm. $50

Django Reinhardt NY Festival July 2017

The Summer 2017 Django Reinhardt NY Festival at Birdland is July 4-9, 2017.

Django Reinhardt NY Festival November 2016

The Django Reinhardt NY Festival is at Birdland November 15-20 2016.

The core band is French guitarist Dorado Schmitt, his guitarist son Amati Schmitt, accordionist Ludovic Beier, violinist Pierre Blanchard, rhythm guitarist Francko Mehrstein, and bassist Xavier Niki.

This season’s brings another amazing cast of guest artists. Jorge Continentino (Forro in the Dark) is NYC’s top Brazilian flute player. Jazzmeia Horn is an American Jazz singer who won the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2015. Edmar Castaneda is an otherworldly Jazz harp player originally from Colombia. Grace Kelly is a rising star on alto saxophone. Joel Frahm is a New York tenor saxophonist.

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Django Reinhardt NY Festival August 2016

The Django Reinhardt NY Festival is back home at Birdland August 2-7, 2016.

This year’s festival features some outstanding guest artist with a Brazilian influence. Come to think of it, Hot Jazz and Brazilian Choro have a similar feeling.

Jorge Continentino (Forro in the Dark) is NYC’s top Brazilian flute player.

Anat Cohen is one of the top Jazz clarinetists around. She also happens to be an expert Choro player. Choro is Carnival music from Rio de Janeiro. It was the first popular urban music in Brazil.

Itaiguara Brandão is a New York-based bass player from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Django Reinhardt is the King of Hot Jazz

Django created the “Hot Jazz” style with violinist Stéphane Grappelli at Le Hot Club de France in the 1930s and 40s.

Django was a child musical prodigy and he really was a Gypsy living in a caravan. In 1928, a fire in his wagon disabled the last two fingers of his left hand. Django developed a two-fingered technique and played better than most guitarists with all five fingers.

In 1934, while working a teatime gig at the Hotel Cambridge, Stéphane Grappelli jammed with Django during a break and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France was born. Their first recordings became a hit and the rest is history.

There has always been something French in Jazz from the time when New Orleans was a French city. There is also a French influence through Haiti in the Cuban dance music that became Latin Jazz as we know it today.

American Jazz made its way back to France with bandleader James Reese Europe. Europe was one of the first Black artists to get the attention of New York City’s cultural elite. He was New York City’s top early Jazz bandleader in the 1910s.

During World War I, Europe became the director of the military band of the 369th Infantry Regiment, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters. In 1918, the band played for Allied soldiers all over France and the French fell in love with Jazz. Just as it was the sound of freedom for Africans in the Americas, Jazz became the sound of freedom for the French, and they really know how to swing.

Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli’s music became popular on both sides of the Atlantic, adding another rich thread to the fabric of Jazz. It is infectious. It is “Hot Jazz.”


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