Django Reinhardt was influenced by jazz recordings of Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. This new music found a place deep in Django's heart. It provided the perfect vehicle for his prodigious talent for improvisation. Django rarely if ever played a solo the same way twice. Numerous recordings prove this to be true. His creative genius was not only that of the master improviser, but also that of the composer, and he can be credited with numerous pieces with beautiful melodies and sophisticated, subtle harmonic structures. However, Django could not read or write musical notation and he was at the mercy of others that could to get his ideas down on paper.
Jean-Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt was a Gypsy jazz guitarist from Belgium, who can be easily considered one of the top 5, all time influential guitarists in history. He is arguably equal to Charlie Christian, but in terms of the pre-electric era, Django reigns as the number one catalyst.
In Woody Allen's 1999 film, Sweet and Lowdown, the main character (played by Sean Penn) is a virtuoso guitarist, obviously inspired by Django. The movie used a strong guitar based score recorded by the talented Howard Alden. Even though Penn courageously attempted to fake the fingering, any experienced guitarist could easily see he was way off the mark. However, the important aspect to this, is how legendary Django has become, as both a virtuoso musician and cult hero who survived a horrible burn accident and yet overcame his handicap and still mastered the guitar, taking it to a new level of unparalleled improvisational prowess.
Reinhardt has been portrayed in several films, such as in the opening sequence of the 2003 animated film Les Triplettes de Belleville. Reinhardt's legacy dominates in Woody Allen's 1999 Sweet and Lowdown. This spoof biopic focuses on fictional American guitarist Emmet Ray's obsession with Reinhardt, with soundtrack featuring Howard Alden. He is also portrayed by guitarist John Jorgenson in the movie Head in the Clouds.
Reinhardt is the idol of the character Arvid in the movie Swing Kids, where the character's left hand is smashed by a member of the Hitler Jugend, but is inspired by Reinhardt's example to keep playing. Similarly, in real life, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi suffered an industrial accident at 17, where the tips of his right middle and ring fingers were amputated on the last day of his job at a sheet metal factory. His boss, in an effort to encourage Iommi to follow his dream of being a professional guitarist, played a Django Reinhardt record for him for inspiration.
Reinhardt's music has been used in the soundtrack of many films, including in The Matrix; Rhythm Futur, Daltry Calhoun, Metroland, Chocolat, The Aviator, Alex and the Gypsy, Kate and Leopold and Gattaca; the score for Louis Malle's 1974 movie, Lacombe Lucien; the background for the Steve Martin movie L.A. Story; and the background for a number of Woody Allen movies, including Stardust Memories. Reinhardt's music has also been featured in the soundtracks of several video games, such as the 2002 game Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Mafia II and several times in the 2007 game BioShock.
Notably, not only was Reinhardt's music used in the 1978 film King of the Gypsies, his long-time friend and violinist Stéphane Grappelli appeared in the film in a cameo performing as part of one of the gypsy bands. In the Martin Scorsese film, Hugo, 2011, a character who appears to be, and is credited as, Reinhardt plays guitar in a combo in the station café.
Reinhardt has been the subject of several songs, most notably "Django" (1954), a gypsy-flavoured piece that jazz pianist John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet wrote in honour of Reinhardt; numerous versions of the song have been recorded, including one on the 1973 Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks self-titled debut album; it also appears on Joe Bonamassa's 2006 LP You & Me. "Tango For Django", a track on Robbie Robertson's album How To Become Clairvoyant, is a tribute.
Reinhardt was the inspiration for a Harlan Ellison short story, "Django", which appears in the short story collections "Shatterday" and "Dreams With Sharp Teeth".
In 2010 the French and Belgian Google homepages displayed a logo commemorating the centenary of his birthday on 23 January 2010.
The Django web framework is named after him, as is version 3.1 of the blog software WordPress.
The Belgian government issued a commemorative coin in 92.5% sterling silver in 2010 coinciding with his 100th birth anniversary. It is a silver 10 Euro coin with a color image of Django Reinhardt on the reverse side.