Hot Jazz: Fingers Working Overtime

Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) was one of the world’s greatest guitarists.  His improvisations and compositions have inspired jazz and popular music guitarists for decades.  Fortunately, Django recorded extensively during his short life; he made over 900 sides of 78-RPM records between 1928 and 1953.  Listen to one of Django’s solos and you will marvel at his speed and agility.  

Django’s playing is extraordinary.  Just listening to him, you would have no idea that he played with only two fingers.  
Django was not born with a limb difference, but he damaged his left hand in an accident.  When Django was eighteen years old, he came back to his caravan one night after a recording session.  As he looked around, his candle wick fell onto his wife’s highly flammable celluloid flowers, immediately setting the caravan ablaze.  Django and his wife escaped, but Django’s right side and the ring and pinky fingers on his left hand were badly burned.  The tendons in these fingers shrunk and he couldn’t extend them.  During the eighteen months that Django recovered from his burns, he developed a new technique system to play guitar, relying almost exclusively on his two uninjured fingers.  A few video clips exist where you can see how he plays.  This one gives more information on Django’s life.  Enjoy!

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