Babik Reinhardt

By Fred Sharp
Updated November 15, 2001

Real Audio links: All Love - Samois

Babik at Piano with Fred SharpeBabik is the guitar playing son of Django Reinhardt. I first met him in Paris in 1967 when he was 23 years old. I went to Paris with my wife Iris at the invitation of M. Charles Delaunay, my good friend of 30 years. Charles set up a recording session at Disques Vogue with Me, Babik, Iris and George Arvanitis, the organ player. The session was not structured, but merely a selection of tunes familiar to all of us, which I believe still exist in the Vogue archives.

While the son of a famous gypsy guitarist, Babik was 9 years old when his father died. Babik was not playing at the time and consequently learned nothing of the guitar from Django. He was of course given a guitar by his mother, Naguine and took lessons from his various and numerous uncles, cousins and those claiming to be related.

He was exposed to a different kind of jazz and with the help of listening to records (I remember sending him all the Wes Montgomery records to date) he developed his very own sort of Jazz-Fusion style. I saw him again in 1972 and he was playing in a small boite with a bass player. The style and technique was building. Babik is a very literate musician and has in recent years, written scores for 3 French motion pictures as well as having visited the United States. The last time I visited Paris in 1985 he was playing in a club with his cousin Boulou and another guitarist by the name of ChristianEscoude. We met and had some dinner at Les Petites Curies restaurant and it was at that time he gave me Djangos Epiphone that was used on the US tour with Duke Ellington. I guess I shed my first tear since I was 9 years old.

Babiks first recording was done at Disques Vogue under the supervision of Charles Delaunay, then a director and scout with Vogue. The first CD was with the Arvanitis trio. It was titled "Swing 67". It was truly a break for Babik, but his playing at that time was somewhat rough. I know he wouldn't mind me saying that, because we discussed it. In 1973 he made the album "Sinti Oun Brazil" with Fernando Martins and group. Another album after that was "Le Chemin de Mon Pere" for EMI and was dedicated to Django. Although there was never much love between Stephane Grappelli and Babik, mostly on Grappelli's side, Babik went on to record yet another album, "Anniversary Concert" with violinist Didier Lockwood...and...believe it or not, Stephane Grappelli. In the early part of 1986 he recorded "Three of a Kind" with Boulou and Escoude. In 1987 he recorded "All Love" and "Live" for RDC records. "All Love" by the way is a gorgeous soulful ballad written in the style of his father. All of the sonority, gentleness and sweetness that Django rubbed off on Babik as the inspiration for "All Love".

More talents.....Babik wrote the musical scores for two motion pictures, "Le Prix Du Silence" and "Mohammad Bertrand Duval.Babik and Fred in 1967

Babik along with Frank Hagege, started and organised the "DJANGO D'OR" yearly concerts and competitions held in Samois sur Seine. Guitarists and famous musicians from all over the world appeard. In the 1995 concert, an old pupil of mine, Jim Hall appeared with Joey Lovano, also another friend, both of them being from my home town of Cleveland, Ohio. The "DJANGO D'OR" concerts have continued up through the present.

One of his latest albums is "Nuances, so you see, if you add up all the titles in all the CD's, and I'm missing a few it amounts to a lot of tunes, most written by Babik while not the profilic recorder that Django was, "he's getting there!"

It's interesting to see how different Babik is from his father, especially noted in a Video he narrated. Many scenes in the Video show the Rosenberg trio, Boulou and all the new and very young gypsies, some being smaller than their guitar. Then out comes Babik with his black leather jacket and black sailors cap with black boots, and plays not in the style of Django, but in the style of John Coltrane, Dizzy and the fusion sound of Chicago, Chick Corea and Jean Luc Ponty.

Babik most recently has played in the United States in concert with Francois Vola, the Godson of Louis Vola.bassist with Le Quintette Du Hot Club de France. The most recent concert at Marthas Vineyard in Cape Cod, Mass. Babik Reinhardt is a personable man, now 53 and now 10 years older than Django was when he died in 1953. The music and legend of Django Reinhardt has lived on for over 65 years. Babik has surely inherited all the musicality of his father, while not trying to copy him and Babiks little son David may be the future torch bearer of the Reinhardt talent.

The article above was written 3 years ago by Fred Sharp as an insight into Babik his good friend.
Below we have an update from Fred after we received the news of Babiks premature death.

Babik Reinhardt and Iris Sharp - Paris 1967The sad news has just reached me that Babik Reinhardt passed away of a fatal heart attack on November 13th, 2001 at Cannes in the French Riviera. Babik was 57, born on June 8th, 1944 in Paris. He was first taught the piano by his father. Django wanted him to play the piano because he thought there would be more work for a pianist than a guitarist.

Babik had a brother, Henri "Louson" Baumgartner who also played guitar and recorded the "Concert De Bruxelles" in 1948 with Django, Hubert Rostaing, Louis Vola and Arthur Motta.

Babik wrote and recorded a composition entitled, "Louson" in his brother's memory. Babik also wrote another beautiful tone poem in memory of his grandmother Laurent. He composed many pieces and his ballads have all the warmth and expression of his fathers compositions. Django always wanted to visit the United States and played once there with Duke Ellington and then at Cafe Society. It was left to Babik to play in the US many, many times, his last performance in 2000, at Birdland in New York City.

I had the pleasure of knowing him and recording with him and George Arvanitis at the Disques Vogue studios in Paris in 1967 and my wife Iris sang. Sadly Iris and Babik are both gone now.

Much Doffing of hats to the author of this piece Fred Sharp

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