It’s been 65 years since Django Reinhardt died at the age of 43, but the legendary Belgian Gypsy jazz musician’s recordings sound as vital as ever, and guitarists of all stripes continue to mine his work for both technical challenges and inspiration. The transcription here is a version of the jazz standard “Limehouse Blues” that Reinhardt recorded on May 4, 1936 with the Quintette du Hot Club de France, featuring Stéphane Grappelli on the violin. Taken at a swift tempo of around 280 bpm and imbued with an exuberant sense of swing, this selection is nicely representative of Reinhardt’s style.

Grappelli takes the head, or melody, of the 32-bar tune arranged here for guitar in bars 1–30. (Bars 31–32 contain a swift guitar fill). Learn the melody first, as it’s fairly easy, and—more important—because improvisation is all about creating variations on pre-composed melodies. . . .


The text above is excerpted from Adam Perlmutter’s analysis of  “Limehouse Blues,” which originally appeared in Acoustic Guitar’s June 2018 issue. For the full text of the article, performance notes, and music notation and tab, head to the Acoustic Guitar Store and pick up a copy.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.