Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Django (talent v. genius)
What the clip confirms for me, by the way, is that Grappelli and Reinhardt really do occupy the distant poles of talent and genius. The violinist is a suave and sweeping player, absolutely consistent--too consistent, you might say, which is what enabled him to make the same album over and over during the final decades of his life. Cutting his Gallic capers and always nudging the melody forward, he swings like few of his peers on the instrument. His goal, an honorable one, is to make the audience happy. Reinhardt has something else in mind--what John Berryman called "the ultimate crime: art, rime." He likes to accomplish the impossible, preferably every eight bars or so. (The rippling run at 2:52 is a perfect example, and that's with only two fingers. Imagine what the guy could have done with a fully operative pinky.) Grappelli makes you smile. Django, dematerializing the very instrument in his lap, makes you gasp.