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Django's Legacy: 21st-Century Gypsy Jazz

Versatile guitarist Frank Vignola has clearly studied Django Reinhardt-style jazz.
Versatile guitarist Frank Vignola has clearly studied Django Reinhardt-style jazz.

Django Reinhardt has achieved an almost godlike status among those who love jazz guitar. When he and violinist Stephane Grappelli formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in 1934, they created a new sound in jazz: The guitar and violin served as the lead instrumental voices, propelled by two hard-swinging rhythm guitars and a bass. No drums, no piano, no saxophone — just five stringed instruments doing what became known as "hot swing" or "Gypsy jazz." (Reinhardt was of Romani origin.)

Many Reinhardt compositions have become jazz standards, and the basic Gypsy jazz sound still holds great appeal. Here, then, are five examples of how his style and spirit are influencing 21st-century American musicians.

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