A beautifully packaged two-disc set, CRAZY RHYTHM compiles numerous 1936-'37 recordings by the legendary Gypsy/Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Much in the way that Thelonious Monk created an utterly singular approach to the piano in the '40s, Reinhardt invented his own distinctive style of guitar playing in the '30s. With his deft, two-fingered fretwork (the result of his hand being injured in a fire) and his highly rhythmic strumming, Reinhardt found fame as part of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, which also featured violinist extraordinaire Stephane Grappelli.
This collection presents many tunes performed with the Hot Club ensemble, including standards ("Georgia on My Mind," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Body and Soul," etc.), all of which feature Reinhardt's sauntering "gypsy jazz" treatment. Even more importantly, CRAZY RHYTHM showcases a number of Reinhardt originals, including songs written with Grappelli (the lilting "Oriental Shuffle," the melancholy "Tears"), as well as inventive solo tracks (the adventurous "Improvisation"). Also of note are four tunes from an April '37 Paris date in which Reinhardt jams with American saxophone greats Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, producing predictably astonishing results. Although there are tons of Reinhardt compilations on the market, this set--with its informative, photo-rich 31-page booklet and excellent sound quality--is one of the finest.