When Bireli Lagrene's Routes to Django: Live was issued in 1980, the 13-year-old jazz guitarist was immediately praised by critics as a protégé of Django Reinhardt. He had already won a prize in a festival at Strasbourg in 1978, and his appearance at a Gypsy festival was broadcast on television. For the next five years, Lagrene would mime Reinhardt's style, even recording versions of the master's "Nuages" and "Djangology" on Swing '81. Over time, however, his role as a protégé began to seem limited. "When I was a kid," Lagrene later recalled, "I used to put on the record again and again, until I succeeded in redoing him [Reinhardt]. Afterwards, I understood that respecting the great guitarist was worth much more than imitating him...."