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Today we remember one of the greatest guitarists in music history. The era was the 1920s and jazz was the new burgeoning music art form.

music Updated: May 23, 2011 14:58 IST
Luke Kenny

Today we remember one of the greatest guitarists in music history. The era was the 1920s and jazz was the new burgeoning music art form. In came the Belgian-born gypsy Jean ‘Django’ Reinhardt who set the scene on fire, literally! At the age of 18, Django was injured in a fire and was badly burnt, leaving his right leg paralysed and the third and fourth fingers in his left hand useless. Refusing any medical attention, he hid away while his brother Joseph tutored him on the guitar. As a result, he impressed a style that allowed him to play with his remaining fingers, and subsequently and amazingly, played all his guitar solos with only two fingers!

During the heyday of swing jazz from the mid ’20s to the early ’30s, Django would unleash his magic with his ‘brothers’ Louis Armstrong and Stephane Grapelli.

Django was an extremely eccentric person and thoroughly unpredictable. He would show up for performances without a guitar, and sometimes not even turn up for sold-out concerts, saying he was going to take a walk on the beach or in a garden.

It was on one of these walks back from a performance in a Paris club on May 16, 1953 that he collapsed from a brain haemorrhage at age 43, leaving behind a world of musical possibilities and collaborations that could have been. So let’s hear it for the gypsy soul, Django. May his tunes reverberate the heavens… if I may say so.

Here’s what you want on your iPod, recommends Luke Kenny

Helplessness Blues
Fleet Foxes

Rating: ****

This has been a great year for folk-rock bands like The Decemberists, Mumford & Sons and the like, who have all managed to make a huge impact worldwide. The same goes for this Fleet Foxes album that’s been three years in the making. Those familiar with the first album will notice the slight musical departures in this one. Yet, the band retains its core sound and lyrically keeps its heart in the right place. Happy melancholia with much resonance is what this one is all about.

Bottomline: Shimmering and glittering!

So Beautiful Or So What
Paul Simon
Concord Music Group

Rating: ****

This marks the return of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century. His first album of new material in 20 years! After 1990’s Rhythmof The Saints, this is Paul Simon at his effervescent best. Songwriters of the world listen and learn, for this is the man who has set the standard for simple storytelling through song. Philosophical, mischievous and conversational; every element has a stellar representation in these ten excellent songs. A happy and most welcome return to Mr Paul Simon.

Bottomline:Live with this now!

Hot Sauce Committee
Part Two — Beastie Boys

Rating: ***

Get your head around this: part Two was supposed to be released as part One but it got delayed; now part two will be released as part One at a later stage, geddit? Anyway, here is one of the oldest old-school rap groups at the top of their game, in this latest offering. And although Adam Yauch had a close brush with cancer two years ago, you can never tell. So get in the house for some old school, scratching and boom box beats and some nasty rhymes in this epic, yo!

Bottomline:Spin this vinyl, mofo!

U2.Com Exclusive

Rating: ***

This one is for U2 fans only, really. Only if you’re a subscriber to do you get to hear this. It’s a compilation of all the duets/collaborations that the band has done with various music luminaries. Some have appeared on albums before: ‘The wanderer’ with Johnny Cash on Zooropa; ‘When love comes to town’ with BB King from the Rattle and Hum album and ‘Miss Sarajevo’ with Luciano Pavarotti from the Passengers album. But the rarities here are, ‘Falling at your feet’ with Daniel Lanois, live versions of Sunday bloody Sunday with Jay-Z, Stuckin a moment with Mick Jagger and many more gems.

Bottomline:Get this U all.