From time to time I've read that Django had been working on music for a Mass. Since this art form has often brought out sublime compositions from noted artists, it is only natural to speculate what Django might have done.
Is there anything known of this work, or any history of reports of this missing Django work? It sounds like the basis for a great mystery script doesn't it?
Django Reinhardt Vol.12 (1943-1945)
des Mes Reves
https://shoppingcart.djangobooks.com/it ... chool.html
(Michael, I think your posted track list for this CD is incomplete -- "Messe" is the last track on disc 1.)
While we're on the subject, are there gypsy settings of Catholic Masses? I know that there are flamenco ones a la Paco Pena.
In Michael Dregni's, Django Reinhardt and the Illustrated History of Gypsy Jazz, page 101, Dregni writes:
"During the war years, Django began work on a new dream: An organ mass devoted to his fellow Romanies to be performed annually at the Gypsy pilgrimage to Camargue ville of Les Saintes-Marie-de-la- Mer and the Gypsies' adopted Saint Sarah....Alas, due to the difficulties of composition, Django never finished the project, although his work-in-progress would be played for radio broadcast in 1944."
A Mass would have the various parts that Stackabones lists, and would be about 45 minutes long. Was some part of the Mass actually recorded?
Back to the mass, here is Lauren Oliver's transcript of the interview from the radio broadcast:
VO: In the Chapel of the National Institute for Blind Children, Django Reinhardt will, for the first time, hear his mass played on the organ, which he has written especially for the gypsies. (Organ begins to play)
Announcer: Could you tell me Mr Reinhardt, what has compelled you to write this mass?
DR: All the gypsies in the entire world have made use of foreign masses for many centuries. I have written this mass to be interpreted by choir and organ.
A: And in what surroundings do you isolate yourself in order to write - it's not a question of surroundings. For you certainly cannot do it after a jazz concert?
DR: I prefer to write in the evening very late or in the morning in my bed.
A: And did you notate the music?
DR: No, it's not I who notates the music. It's my clarinetist in the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, Gerard Leveque. I dictate it to him.
A: And is today the first recital of your mass?
DR: It is an extract of my mass. I particularily don't know the ending. It's the first time I have heard the composition on the organ.
A: Certainly you know, Mr Reinhardt, that in the world and particularily in France, it is said that you are the king of the gypsies. Is that accurate?
DR: No, no, no, don't think that. But it might come to pass, perhaps one day. I am very loved by them, and I thank them by offering to them this mass. (Organ continues to play)
The mass is quite beautiful and dignified. Maybe this will clear up some questions.
You say that Django may not have known the technical features of the Mass. Do you think it's possible that having lived (or at least worked) in a largely Catholic culture, he would have actually known the Mass parts, even though he was a gypsy? I know that nowadays Catholic culture maybe a bit of mystery to most folks, but before WWII wasn't it more mainstream?
"- Was Django a believer?"
"- Yes, but he would not go often to the mass. I remember of a story. On the train going to Rome there were 6 seats by compartment. The Quintet du Hot Clubs comes and sits and the sixth person was a cassocked priest who was going to Rome for the Holy Year. Django seized the opportunity to ask him which were the figures used for writing a mass. The priest explained him. And Django listened very carefully. And he did eventually write a mass. It's Léo Chauliac who transcribed it, because Django was writing music only with his guitar"
In Jazz Hot n°600 (may 2003).