Django’s Music

‘Dango’s Music’ –

The 1940 Big Band

‘Django’s Music‘ was the name of Reinhardt’s occasional big band

The formation of Django ReinhardtDjango’s Music” recorded in Paris March 22, 1940 at Jimmy’s Bar, Montparnasse – Philippe Brun , Alex Renard (tp) ; Alix Combelle (cl, ts) ; Charlie Lewis (p) ; Django Reinhardt , Pierre “Baro” Ferret (g) ; Eugène Soudieux (b). With: Philip Brown, Alex Fox (tp); Alix Combelle (cl, ts), Charlie Lewis (p), Django Reinhardt, Pierre “Baro” Ferret (g); Eugene Soudieux (b).

Grande Orchestre Swing

DangoBandDjango himself, increasingly absorbed by questions of orchestration was dabbling with the big band formula. He put together a group called “Django’s Music” whose repertoire consisted entirely of arrangements he had dictated himself on the guitar. Django’s aspirations as a symphonic composer were never fully realised. His Mass was never finished. However, some of his arrangements from this period (for example, Stockholm, Nymphéas, Féérie) retain a curious impressionistic atmosphere which crosses the border between Jazz and non-jazz, prefiguring his later Rhythmes Futurs. Others are more fully in tune with the idiom of the Swing Era, such as the haunting Artillerie Lourde whose riffs are close to those of Tuxedo Junction and whose title is a lugubrious evocation of that month of November 1944.

Philippe Brun (trumpet)
Pierre Allier (trumpet)
Alex Renard (trumpet)
Al Piguillem (trumpet)
Guy Paquinet (trombone)
Gaston Moat (trombone)
Pierre Deck (trombone)
Alix Combelle (baritone sax)
Charlie Lewis (piano)
Django Reinhardt (guitar solo)
Pierre “Baro” Ferret (guitar)
Emmanuel Soudieux (basse

I am hoping you can give me all the information ( however trivial ) on/about ALBERT (Al) PIGUILLEM Trumpet player,I know very little apart from a few tracks he played on.  Albert was the Father of the the best man( at my wedding over 45 years ago) and old friend ALAN PIGUILLEM  who I remember was born in 1942 at/in Vernet les Bains near Pepignan – thats all I know.  Please can you help me’Regards. Ken Rouse

DjangosMusicCDBut with the outbreak of WW2 and Django’s decision to return to the European continent, he had to start all over.  On 22 March  1940 Reinhardt returned to the recording studio at the head of a drummerless big band, an unprecedented setting for an acoustic guitarist.  The United States’ Alvino Rey, who actually played steel guitar, was the only swing era guitarist to lead a regular orchestra.  Reinhardt’s band, called ‘Django’s Music’, recorded 4 numbers, starting off with the catchy Daphne, a song that the Quintet had previously recorded on 31 January 1938.  Tenor-saxophonist Alix Combelle and trumpeter Philippe Brun have solos while the leader is content to swing the band on rhythm guitarLimehouse Blues puts the spotlight on the fine altoist Andre Ekyan before Django flies over the brass, having no difficulty being heard over the 4 trumpets and 3 trombones.  The eerie Tears, one of the most memorable of the Reinhardt-Grappelli compositions, features both the guitarist and the ensemble.  Jimmy’s Bar has a typically fluent solo from Django who plays with a septet taken from the larger group.

While the big band was a happy departure, Django Reinhardt needed a regular combo to play jobs in wartime France.  There was no point trying to replace Stephane Grappelli with another violinist since Grappelli was the top European violinist, so Reinhardt instead utilized Hubert Rostaing, a technically skilled and advanced clarinettist who also doubled on tenor sax.  Rostaing would play with Django on and off through to 1948.  And instead of having 3 guitars as before, Reinhardt cut back to 2 (using his brother Joseph Reinhardt) and added drummer Pierre Fouad.

Probably to avoid being noticed by the Nazis, most of the standards played by the Quintet during the war years were issued under their French titles, with the exception of Sweet Sue and All Of MeExactly Like You (“Pour vous”) has Combelle’s last appearance on the 13 December set, showing off his tenor playing along with Rostaing’s clarinet.  The classical melody Fantaisie sur une danse norvégienne is turned into a delightful exercise in swing by the Quintet with Django showing once again in his chordal solo that he had no competitors among guitarists of the era (other than Charlie Christian).  Vendredi 13 may have been recorded on Friday the 13th but the musical luck was very good that day; Combelle helps out by ringing some bells during this exotic piece.  Another classical melody, Liebesfreud, is full of exuberant joy.  The lesser-known Reinhardt–Grappelli piece Mabel (previously recorded on 14 December 1937) has a very advanced and tricky chord structure that challenges the musicians to create fresh melodic ideas.  Little White Lies (retitled “Petits Mensonges”) has an additional theme added by the Quintet (heard during the guitar solo) that makes this version sound fresh and quite different than usual.  On the traditional Dark Eyes (or “Les yeux noirs”) and  Sweet Sue, Just You, Reinhardt really cooks, played heated single-note lines during his spots.

Alix Combelle returns for the 3 selections recorded on 17 December.  Swing de Paris is a medium-tempo blues given its personality due to some key changes, unusual transitions and the use of the 2 clarinets.  Oiseaux des îles is a musical train ride while a more conventional All Of Me has fine solos from all of the principals.

This release concludes with 2 numbers from a slightly different version of the Django Reinhardt Big Band (‘Django’s Music’), one with a full saxophone section and drums.  Reinhardt and Rostaing have spots on Stockholm while Festival Swing is similar to a performance by the Metronome All Stars in that it features many top musicians in a brief period of time.  There is a chorus apiece on the medium-tempo blues from 10 of the 12 horns, bassist Tony Rovira and drummer Pierre Fouad (each of whom are announced) plus 2 choruses by the great Django.

Life may have been increasingly grim for Django Reinhardt under the Nazi rule but one cannot tell that from these infectious and innovative performances, many of which were formerly rare.  – Scott Yanow

Django, too well-known to be seriously at risk, had never needed to compromise with the Occupation Authorities in order to keep working. But now he, too, was beginning to feel the pressure. The music he had written for an avant-garde production of Andromaque had earned him the condemnation of the collaborationist press and threats of violence from the dreaded Milice.  Pressure of another kind was coming from the Germans who were becoming insistent in their demands that the Quintet should appear in the Reich itself. Django felt it would be prudent to leave Paris; he made 2 attempts to get into neutral Switzerland but was turned back both times at the Border by the Swiss sueing “neither Black nor Jewish” Then began a period of wandering the length and breadth of France, sometimes with the Quintet, sometimes on the roads with his nomadic “cousins”, and once even returning to Paris to open his own club “La Roulotte” (not far from the place where his son Babik was born”).

DjangoMusicCD2Reinhardt’s interim sides during the war still deserve some attention.
This nicely remastered collection on the Hep label certainly helps in that regard. Including 25 sides from 1940-1943,
Django’s Music focuses on the guitarist’s big band material, and features such past Reinhardt collaborators as multi-reed player Alix Combelle, brother and guitarist Joseph Reinhardt, and alto saxophonist Andre Ekyan. Clarinettist Hubert Rostaing is the standout on the combo dates.
Among the highlights are Reinhardt classics like “Daphne,” “Djangology,” and “Nuages.” A welcome addition to a catalogue already brimming over with many fine collections.

March 22, 1940 ~ Paris
Django’s Music
Philippe Brun, Pierre Allier, Alex Renard, Al Piguillem (tp); Guy Paquinet, Gaston Moat, Pierre Deck (tb); Alix Combelle (bs); Charlie Lewis (p); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Pierre “Baro” Ferret (g); Emmanuel Soudieux (b)
Django’s Music
Philippe Brun, Pierre Allier, Alex Renard, Al Piguillem (tp); Guy Paquinet, Gaston Moat, Pierre Deck (tb); André Ekyan (as); Alix Combelle (bs); Charlie Lewis (p); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Pierre “Baro” Ferret (g); Emmanuel Soudieux (b)
Limehouse Blues
December 26, 1940 ~ Paris
Django’s Music
Pierre Allier, Christian Bellest, Severin Luino, Aimé Barelli (tp); Maurice Gladieu, Guy Paquinet (tb); Christian Wagner, Max Blanc (as); Nöel Chiboust, Georges Jacquemont (ts); Alix Combelle (ts, speech); Hubert Rostaing (cl); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Joseph Reinhardt (g); Tony Rovira (b); Pierre Fouad (dm)
March 31, 1942 ~ Paris
Django’s Music
Aimé Barelli, Alex Caturegli, Severin Luino (tp); Maurice Gladieu, Pierre Remy (tb); Hubert Rostaing (cl & as); Maurice Cizeron (fl & as); Christian Wagner (as); Nöel Chiboust (ts); Paul Collot (p); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Eugène Vées (g); Emmanuel Soudieux (b); André Jourdan (dm)
Nympheas, Feerie
November 3, 1944 ~ Paris
Django’s Music
Christian Bellest, Alex Caturegli, Roger Hubert (tp); Pierre Rémy, Librecht (tb); Gérard Lévéque (cl); Yves Raynal (bs); Léo Chauliac (p); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Joseph Reinhardt (g); Lucien Simoens (b); Jerry Mengo (dm)
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

Django’s Music

Guitarists are one thing; there are also ‘the horns’ (trumpeters, especially) who’ve emulated his lines, pianists who dig his harmonics, drummers who seek to recapitulate that inimical Euro-swing beat. There are also the dancers, artists, writers, film makers. Django is not by accident the exemplar of a mood, a look, a feel of cosmopolitan Europe in the years surrounding WW2.  To listen to Django is to hear the sound of music that was almost wiped off the Earth forever. It is the sound of love, lust, friendship and the greatest of common human value. In the end, it is the sound of victory.  1947 was the year that Django, fascinated with bebop and intrigued by the technical achievements of Charlie Christian, Les Paul and the great Basie-ite Freddie Green, made his first recordings on electric guitar.

This aspect of his output has, understandably, got less attention than the indispensable work he did in his 1st recorded decade, but a good listen will be very rewarding for any jazz fan. All of the qualities that make him an icon to acoustic players, from his deft touch and innovative phrasings to his choice of material and sidemen, are amplified, literally, with the addition of electrics. Unlike in the older recordings, where Django’s lead lines blend in with 2 rhythm guitars, bass and violin or clarinet, amplification sets him firmly out front. The contrast helps to deepen his group’s harmonics, reaching to the near edge of counterpoint. We can only guess what this group, which knocked off seven 78s for Blue Star Records in just 2 days, could have accomplished in the LP format. The year began normally enough, with a session for 12-piece band on April 16 (a date that needs something positive associated with it), followed immediately by 4 tracks with an acoustic quintet. The core of the electric guitar output was recorded in 2 sessions on July 6 and July 18. Besides Django, the 2 sidemen to record in both quintet sessions were clarinettist Hubert Rostaing and drummer Andre Jourdan, each of whom are crucial figures in Djangology. Three tracks in particular “Blues For Barclay,” “Vette” and “Swing 48” are like a manifesto of this new intent. For the first time, the addition of drums to his small group brings both power and swing in ample supply. Hearing these tracks their percussion game was a major revelation. The opening break on “Vette” might be the best 7 seconds of brushwork ever recorded, and his solo on “Swing 48” somehow bridges the entire jazz drumming tradition that existed to that point, without ever betraying pastiche. Clearly, Jourdan, Jean-Louis Viale, Al Craig and Ted Curry owned a lot of records!

The drummers brought Django’s silken muscularity to the fore. Never had his lines sounded so frontal. Given his infamous initial reaction to the work of Charlie Parker, one wishes there were living record of Parker hearing this stuff. The idea of the 2 in collaboration constitutes the very definition of “fantasy booking.” I can imagine either Django’s guitar in the piano spot of Parker’s ’47 group (with Miles Davis, Curley Russell and Roy Haynes) or Parker in Rostaing’s spot. It’s certainly a shame that the 2 weren’t acquainted in the early ‘50s— they might have saved each other’s lives!

The specific tracks cited above should be now available in more savoury forms. Verve reissued a bunch of the electric ’47-’53 materials as the double-disc Peche a la Mouche,  The amplified Django really needs to be anthologised in some definitive way.

Django Reinhardt continued to interface with electric guitar until his death six years later; the definitive version of “Brazil” was recorded weeks before a stroke, at 43.  He died disillusioned and unsure if he’d even be remembered, not knowing his legacy was already secure. Django’s story is compelling in so many ways, its passions and politics, its sheer human interest value, the force of the man’s personality, but at the core is the master of a particular approach, one whose resonance has only been enhanced by time. Unfortunately, he died before his public caught up with him fully.


Django & ATC Band – Air Transport Command


Bernie Cavaliere, Bill Bethel, Bill Decker, Bill Zickenfoose,Bob Decker, Django Reinhardt, Don Gardner (2), Herb Bass, Jerry Stephan, Jim Hayes, Joe Moser, John Kirkpatrick (2), Ken Lowther, Larry Mann, Léo Chauliac, Lonnie Wilflong, Red Lacky, Robin Gould, Shelton Heath

ATC-LogoDjango Reinhardt recorded 19 tracks with the ATC (Air Transport Command) Band directed by Sergeant Jack Platt, and 3 with members of the band under his own name . Only 4 of the titles were released by the Swing label as “Django Reinhardt and his American Swing Band“; the remaining sides were acetates, either from AFN (American Forces Network) radio programs or from their final concert at the Salle Pleyel.  In January 1945, a contingent from Glenn Miller’s band plus Reinhardt turned in a number of fine performances, issued on the rare Jazz Club Francais label. In October 1945, Django often worked with “The European Division Band of the Air Transport Command“, directed by Jack Platt. Better known as “Django’s American Swing Band“, this unit featured mostly little-known, yet highly competent musicians. One of Django’s great admirers, trumpet player Lonnie Wilflong arranged some of the guitarist’s best and most popular compositions for this big band. The resulting records are outstanding! Fortunately, more music by this band, featuring Django, has been preserved.

There are 8 photos of Django & Sergeant Jack Platt musical director of the ATC band (US Air Transport Command) during the recording sessions at the AFN studio with the ATC band in November 1, 1945.

Says Duke Ellington: “Django is all artist. Jazz isn’t exactly the word for it. Jazz was that raggedy music they used to play about 1920. Nowadays, jazz must be classified according to who’s playing it. I call Reinhardt’s playing Django Music. He’s one of those musicians who is unable to play a note that’s not pretty or not in good taste. Sure he’s a great virtuoso.”

In 1951, Django Reinhardt plays regularly with a band made up of the best be-boppers French: Roger Guerin, Hubert and Raymond Fol, Pierre Michelot, Bernard Peiffer, Jean-Louis Viale. Always at the forefront of jazz, Django recorded his last record April 8, 1953, with Martial Solal on piano, Pierre Michelot on bass, Fats Sadi on vibes and Pierre Lallement Lemarchand on drums. He died one month later, May 16, 1953, of a cerebral haemorrhage. Considered by Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery as one of the best guitarists that ever existed Jazz,