On my last visit to Paris I just managed to squeeze in a visit, to the Django Reindhart exhibition at Cite de la musique. I had never seen the museum before, and from the outside it is an exciting and impressive building. In contrast the inside is disappointing. It is grand and imposing but it doesn’t feel particularly user friendly.
The cafe area is gloomy with a low ceiling, as can be seen below the turn of the staircase on the left of the image above. The circulation areas don’t have enough seating. The shop sells CD’s, but no English language catalogue of the exhibition.
Despite this, the exhibition was held in a more intimate space with sound booths to hear original music, lots of images, record covers and Reinhardt’s own guitars.
The child of travellers, Django was born in Belgium, but grew up in France. During his short life (1910-19530) he developed swing, he played with the greats including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Stephan Grappelli. After an accident in 1928, a fire, where he lost the use of two fingers he taught himself to play with two fingers and a thumb. He handled his guitar with remarkable speed and agility and was playing again to Parisian nightclub audiences by 1930.
Whilst in Paris a friend took me to a bar near where Django lived next to Marche aux Puces, the flea and antique market area. Behind the tiny bar is a restaurant/concert venue filled with Django memorabillia. It is here that you can still hear the same kind of music that Django played.
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Metro Porte de Clignancourt.