December 20, 1993 12:00 PM

Django Reinhardt

Raised in a gypsy settlement outside Paris, Reinhardt was a vagabond genius who developed an utterly distinct style on guitar after losing the use of two fingers on his left hand in a caravan fire in 1928. Among these 243 tracks are his Depression-era recordings with violinist Stephane Grappelli and the Quintette Du Hot Club de France. Reinhardt’s rhythmic and harmonic sophistication is most apparent on the 1937 tune “Minor Swing.” (Blue Note)

GREAT DAYS: THE JOHN PRINE ANTHOLOGY

John Prine has been writing songs for more than 30 years that careen between humor and heartbreak. Like Bonnie Raitt, he has lived on the edge of country, rock, blues and folk. This superb two-CD anthology includes a duet with Raitt on “Angel from Montgomery” and a live version of “Big Old Goofy World” from 1991’s Grammy-winning The Missing Years. (Rhino)

THE MUSIC OF JOHNNY MATHIS: A PERSONAL COLLECTION

Before there was Harry Connick Jr., romantics turned to Johnny Mathis for their enchanted evenings. This 86-song lovefest suggests why Mathis has often been blamed for the last 10 years of the baby boom. If you aren’t a fan, this set will make clear why he and his songs are survivors. (Legacy/Columbia)

OTIS! THE DEFINITIVE OTIS REDDING

Before dying in a ’67 plane crash, Otis embodied the era’s lost dream of racial harmony and social progress. The four-CD collection runs from his early work to the great stuff, including “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “Respect” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” One disc is concert cuts: “Try a Little Tenderness,” with which Otis tore up the ’67 Monterey Pop Festival, is one of the most thrilling live rock recordings. (Rhino)

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