Video Pick of the Week: Roland Dyens Plays Django Reinhardt’s ‘Nuages’

This week’s Video Pick was posted yesterday by our friends at Guitar Salon International (GSI) and features the amazing Mssr. D performing one of French guitar great Django Reinhardt’s best-known compositions, Nuages (“Clouds”), introduced and recorded in the fall of 1940, and which, in the words of Michael Dregni in his superb book Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend, “became the ersatz theme of France during the [German] Occupation… The people happily embraced this song as their own. The melody seemed to come from Django out of thin air, as his amazed bandmates remembered.” You can hear a Django group version from 1940 here. And that’s him below…

Dyens’ arrangement adds his own fanciful opening and then many distinctive touches throughout, never losing sight of Django’s original. All in all it’s a remarkable interpretation. Appropriately enough, too, Dyens plays the piece on a historic 1940s guitar made by fellow Frenchman Robert Bouchet. Nuages is also the title track of a 2014 Dyens CD we recommend highly; a disc that also includes pieces by Miles Davis, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Erik Satie, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and, of course, Dyens himself.