The event, which regularly attracts legions of fans of the “hot” jazz sound Reinhardt pioneered as well as guitarists from all over the Bay Area, has long been one of the landmark local venue’s most popular events. Djangofest kicks off June 21 with a set from Bina Coquet Trio plus Simon Planting, followed on June 22 with Paulus Schäfer, Tim Kliphuis, Simon Planting and special guest Samuel Farthing. The weekend concludes June 23 with Jason Anick Acoustic Trio & Nick Lehr Memorial Djam featuring DjangoFest Mill Valley artists from all three days.
Though Reinhardt died 65 years ago, gypsy jazz continues to find new audiences. Its popularity surged in the aftermath of Woody Allen’s 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, in which Sean Penn portrayed 1930s, fictional jazz guitarist Emmet Ray, who idolizes Django Reinhardt.
A Romani gypsy from Belgium, Reinhardt emerged in the 1930s as Europe’s best-known jazz musician, a virtuoso guitar player who combined his love for American greats like Louis Armstrong with the rich and mysterious Romani musical tradition. Though he died tragically young at age 43, Reinhardt’s musical legend was by that time cemented within jazz circles, and the past few decades have seen a worldwide spike in interest in both his music and his place in jazz history.
“He transformed jazz in a lot of ways,” said Nick Lehr, the late co-founder of DjangoFest Mill Valley who produced his first such festival in Whidbey Island, Washington back in 2001. “Not only was he the most famous European jazz musician, but he’s also probably the only European that really contributed to the development of the art form.”
The 411: Djangofest is June 21-23 at the Throckmorton Theatre. MORE INFO & TIX.