Though he died young, at the age of 43, and was by all accounts not an overly large man physically, Jean “Django” Reinhardt is an immortal giant.
The Belgian-born Romani-French guitarist and composer, the first jazz talent to emerge from Europe and the most significant, is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, and his birthday will be celebrated on Bainbridge Island with a special commemorative concert from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11 at the Treehouse Café.
Gypsy jazz musicians from around Puget Sound will celebrate Reinhardt’s 109th birthday with an evening of music that will feature local favorites Ranger and the Re-Arrangers, plus guest appearances by Eric Bogart on guitar, Julian Smedley on violin, Gabe Hall-Rodrigues on accordion, and Bill Rappaport on clarinet.
Reinhardt was an itinerant Gypsy who earned international acclaim in the 1930s. Many of his compositions became jazz classics and he is considered one of the top guitar soloists of all time. Duke Ellington himself referred to him as, “the most creative jazz musician to originate anywhere outside the United States.”
Decades later, Jerry Garcia said, “Even today, nobody has really come to the state that he was playing at…nobody plays with the whole fullness of expression that Django had.”
Ranger and the Re-Arrangers evoke the spirit of a Paris cafe and the raucous energy of a Gypsy campsite. The evening will feature songs from their repertoire of swing standards, traditional gypsy melodies, and of course, several of Reinhardt’s own compositions.
“Our goal is to feature as many great musicians and different instruments as we can,” said Re-Arrangers frontman Ranger Sciacca.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
Visit www.treehousebainbridge.com to learn more.