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Crazy Rhythm - Django Reinhardt

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Artist: Django Reinhardt / Audio CD released 1996-10-26 at Music Digital

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      20.11.2006 19:44
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      Not to everyone's taste, but an enjoyable album for those who don't mind 'vintage' music.

      Say the name Django Reinhardt to someone and you'll most likely get one of two responses: either they'll smile at you and say "You've heard of him? Excellent!" or they'll simply stare blankly at you as if you're speaking a foreign language.

      For anyone who doesn't know, Django Reinhardt was a jazz guitarist popular through particularly the 1930's. Born to a family of Gypsies, he spent his early life travelling and was playing guitar from a very early age.
      The most impressive thing about Django's guitar playing is he actually lost the use of two of his fingers on his left hand (the hand most guitarists' uses to fret with, form chords, etc.) during a fire at the age of eighteen. With such a disability, many guitarists would have called it a day, but not so Django. Instead, he adapted his parts to suit his abilities and even pushed himself to develop new ways of approaching guitar playing, pioneering a style of single-note melodies which caused a sensation and helped him to become internationally renowned in his day.

      To some, 'jazz' is a dirty word, conjuring up images of men in polo-neck shirts and dark glasses who say 'Nice' a lot and generally just make a noise. This however is not that kind of jazz; instead, it's from an era of jazz that is much more laid back, friendly and easily accessible to most people - a style of music that I can only describe as 'vintage'. If you're not a fan of popular music prior to the 1960's this probably isn't an album you'd enjoy; however if you like the style and simplicity of "vintage" music, you'll probably appreciate this album.

      'Crazy Rhythm' is a compilation album, featuring twenty tracks recorded at various times throughout Django's career. These represent a typical jazz repertoire for the era, including songs such as 'Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea', 'I Got Rhythm' and two versions of 'Crazy Rhythm', (which the album takes its name from). Mostly the songs are instrumentals, though there are one or two tracks with a vocal on them.

      The recordings have not been remastered and as such still have that vinyl sound. I personal find this quite charming and refreshing compared to a lot of over produced records you can buy today, though I can imagine some people may find this a little distracting, or even just irritating.
      Some of the recordings are better than others, whilst others have a distinctive hiss and crackle commonly found on vinyl. On the whole the instruments are well balanced and, whilst occasionally you may struggle in certain places, on the whole you can make out the individual instruments clearly.
      Listening to Django playing along with violins, trumpets and other instruments, you glimpse the genius and talent of the man. Most of the songs have an upbeat nature to them and, whilst perhaps more background music than something you'd devote your concentration to, the songs are still catchy and I find myself tapping my feet without realising it. I particularly like the way Django's playing and tone compliment and work alongside the other instruments, rather than trying to stand out from them. You could argue that as this is sold as a Django Reinhardt album he should be taking the lead most of the time, but this isn't the nature of a jazz-guitarists. I think it was been well balanced, with lead parts being shared between the instruments and I thought this helped keep the album fresh and prevent it from become repetitive or predictable.

      The album sleeve is simple, containing a brief history about Django, as well as the song names and their composers. More information might have been welcome here, but this is quite common for compilation albums and so is not really all that unexpected.
      A slight disappointment here is the lack of information about the musician involved on the tracks. The violin parts are very likely to be Stephane Grappelli, but there is no confirmation of this anywhere on the album, so you're left wondering who exactly is playing the parts so well. Whether this is due to laziness on the production side, or simply due to lack of information about the recordings in the first place I can't say, but it is a bit of a shame.

      I'm not a huge jazz fan by any means, (I think I own only three or four albums you might class as jazz) but I find this CD quite enjoyable to listen to. I picked it up quite a few years ago from the bargain bin, (I forget the exact shop and price, but it's likely to have been HMV or Virgin and I'm sure I paid less than £4 for it), but it is now available from Amazon for £5.99. This is perhaps a little expensive by a pound or so, especially if you're not sure you'd like the music, but it's certainly not extortionate. If you keep an eye out I'm sure you could probably pick this up for a couple of pounds less in the bargain bin.

      I have seen several other Django Reinhardt albums by the same name, though featuring different tracks. As I've not heard these other albums I cannot really comment on the differences, but if you do choose to buy the album reviewed here, be aware that the name is used elsewhere!

      Obviously, this won't appeal to everyone. I personally would recommend this album to any fan of Django, or, equally, if you're curious about the artist or this style of music, then I think this is a brilliant introduction that won't break the bank and should give you a good feel for the music and musician. Highly recommended to anyone interested.

      Track Listing:

      1) Crazy Rhythm - 1937
      2) Dinah
      3) Tiger Rag
      4) Smoke Rings
      5) I've Found A New Baby
      6) Djangology
      7) After You've Gone
      8) Limehouse Blues
      9) Nagasaki
      10) Georgia On My Mind
      11) Honeysuckle Rose
      12) Out Of Nowhere
      13) Sweet Georgia Brown
      14) Bugle Call Rag
      15) Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
      16) I Got Rhythm
      17) Japanese Sandman
      18) St. Louis Blues
      19) Oh, Lady Be Good
      20) Crazy Rhythm - 1935

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Crazy Rhythm 1937
      2 Dinah
      3 Tiger Rag
      4 Smoke Rings
      5 I've Found A New Baby
      6 Djangology
      7 After You've Gone
      8 Limehouse Blues
      9 Nagasaki
      10 Georgia On My Mind
      11 Honeysuckle Rose
      12 Out Of Nowhere
      13 Sweet Georgia Brown
      14 Bugle Call Rag
      15 Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
      16 I Got Rhythm
      17 Japanese Sandman
      18 St Louis Blues
      19 Oh Lady Be Good
      20 Crazy Rhythm 1935