A few more days until Django's birthday. Django was a tremendous influence to so many musicians of so many styles. He claimed to be a jazz musician, but I think he was a bit more than that. Before the term Gypsy Jazz came along and the style became super codified (which is the contrary of what Django really was about) people who played in the style of Django were very diverse. The classical guitarist Julian Bream had a Django style band. So did Joe Pass.
When I started, there was practically no information available and the style wasn't as codified as it is today. I remember wanting instruction in the style but I couldn't find anything locally. By that time, Paul Mehling had been promoting and playing Django music in the USA for quite a while. He also published videos that were sold all over the world for people wanting to get started. I didn't benefit from these videos because they weren't easily available where I was. Nonetheless, he deserves credit for being one of the first to help people out.
I've only met him once, and he was nice enough to invite me over to his house to jam. He does not play in the codified Gypsy Jazz way, he plays in his own way with, of course, huge inspiration directly from Django himself (as opposed to many players today copying contemporary gypsy jazz players). He traveled a lot to Europe back in the day and hung out a lot with another under-appreciated musician, Serge Krief (whom I'll talk about another time). Great musician, and nice guy. Here's to your contributions Paul!