French gypsy legend Django Reinhart wasn’t just a guitarist, he was a spiritual leader. And today, musicians from all over the world are spreading the jazz-influenced sound and culture Reinhart championed in the early 20th century to anyone willing to listen.
One of them is Jon Dichter, a skilled guitarist and music teacher at the Baldwin School who’s performed in various ensembles throughout the region. “Django was a soul that came to us in a physical form,” he says of his idol.
Dichter’s most recent project, the now-defunct swing jazz outfit Beau Django (French for “beautiful Django”), followed the classic make-up of a gypsy band—two guitars, bass and violin—though it eschewed the true nomadic tradition, where musicians rarely meet their bandmates until minutes before their performances. Spontaneity is essential to the gypsy sound, which thrives on improvisation and solos. “If you can’t cut it, you go practice before you get in the inner circle,” says Dichter.
For fans, the music provides an escape from the stress of everyday life. For the players, it’s a way of life—an attitude in which unfulfilled expectations are seen as opportunities for change.
-Benjamin Berliner, Main Line Today