Jean "Django" Reinhardt (French pronunciation: [dʒɑ̃ɡo ʁenɑʁt]; 23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953) was a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer.
Born into a family of Romani gypsies Reinhardt invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called 'hot' jazz guitar) that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture. With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek as "one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz." Reinhardt's most popular compositions have become jazz standards, including "Minor Swing", "Daphne", "Belleville", "Djangology", "Swing '42" and "Nuages" (French for "Clouds").
Born in Liberchies, Pont-à-Celles, Belgium, Reinhardt's nickname "Django" is Romani for: "I awake." He spent most of his youth in Romani (Gypsy) encampments close to Paris, playing banjo, guitar and violin from an early age. His family made cane furniture for a living, but included several keen amateur musicians.
He started by playing the violin and eventually moved on to a banjo-guitar that had been given to him as a gift. His first known recordings (in 1928) were of him playing the banjo. During this period he was influenced by two older gypsy musicians, the banjoist Gusti Mahla and the guitarist Jean "Poulette" Castro. Able to make a living in music from his early teens onwards, he received little formal education and only acquired the rudiments of literacy in adult life.