Django Reinhardt

War Clouds, Vol. 2

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During the year 2000, more than 30 Django Reinhardt collections were released by more than 20 different companies. One of the more specifically focused entries, EMI's War Clouds, Vol. 2 concentrated upon the guitarist's wartime output. What you hear on this collection is authentic Parisian Gypsy swing, some of it involving big bands rather than the standard "Hot Club" Quintet format, created under what must have been challenging circumstances. Nearly six months into the Nazi occupation of Paris, Django Reinhardt and his companions in swing were openly defying the cultural and racial policies of the Third Reich when "Pour Commencier" was recorded on December 18, 1940. This collection then proceeds to follow a trail of uniformly solid swing sides cut in 1941, 1942, and especially 1943 (tracks 9-21), ending with the only records Reinhardt is known to have made during the year 1944 (tracks 22-24). Django's friend and musical collaborator St├ęphane Grappelli, who was in exile throughout the war, is not heard on this collection. The only explanation for Reinhardt's survival throughout this period is leniency on the part of certain Nazi and/or Vichy officials who knew his music and did what was necessary to ensure his relative freedom and well-being. The most dramatic example occurred during the autumn of 1943 when Reinhardt, after cowering in air raid shelters during allied bombardments, tried to emigrate to Switzerland, was arrested and briefly incarcerated but then released. With this knowledge, one can imagine a man of Reinhardt's temperament laying low and maintaining an inconspicuous profile. Small wonder then that he only recorded about ten minutes of music over the following year.