Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) featured on Limehouse Blues.
The band is the The Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Stephane Grappelli plays the violin, Louis Vola plays the double-bass. Reinhardt brother Joseph also performs on this recording.
Django is one of the great legends in jazz guitar of course. A very colorful and popular figure, he continues to draw fans to his music. The Woody Allen film "Sweet and Lowdown" from 1995 with Sean Penn as an American guitarist so enamoured of Rinehardt's magic with the instrument that he falls over in a dead faint when given the chance to meet him.
I was surprised to discover the Belgian-born Rinehardt badly burned two fingers of his right hand in a fire at eighteen and relearned how to play the instrument.
After teaming up with Grappelli in 1937, Reinhardt went back to France from London in 1940 (despite the German occupation) to reunite with his wife. Despite the severe deportations polices of the Nazis toward ethnic Rom ai (Gypsies), he survived the war owing reportedly to the protection of a Luftwaffe officer in Paris who was a great jazz fan.
After the war, Reinhardt and Grappelli went to the United States, where he met and performed with Duke Ellington. His popularity was somewhat undercut by his inability to show up on time for his concerts, often opting instead to go fishing, or walk along the beach. He was a major fan of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and played with Gillespie, but as far as I know never got to record with him. Although he did work with other American jazz artists who came to France in the late 1940's.
Jazz critic Fred Sharp had this to say about Rinehardt in this 1972 article:
"Overcoming the handicap of his disabled hand, Django could play impeccably at an incredible speed, and he included in his playing, musical forms and figures that were totally of his own creation, such as lightning fast glissandos executed usually with one finger on one string without the slighted alteration of dynamics between the notes. No one has ever been able to replicate the quality of that artistic achievement.
"With considerable effort, a guitarist might be able to copy some of Django's playing, but no one can replicate his musical conceptions. Beyond simply improvising, Django was, in the final analysis, a composer. The ideas he played on his guitar reveal more of the composer than the jazz improviser, thus if you transcribe one of his choruses and have it analyzed by an individual trained in musical composition, it appears that his music is indeed "constructed" in the manner of a complex compostion and is not simply the product of improvisation."
He retired from touring altogether in 1951 and died of a brain hemorrhage far too young two years later. His recordings still astound, as I think you'll agree.
(Below) A good summation article on Django from a website dedicated to his memory and his music.