Stephane Grappelli: Live (2002)
The late Stephane Grappelli was not unique among jazz performances in the length of his career (see also Benny Waters), his choice of instrument and virtuosity thereon (see also Eddie South), or his native land (see also Django Reinhardt, his most famous partner), but offhand I can't think of another octogenarian French jazz violinist. Since his recordings with Reinhardt in the 1930's under the name Quintette du Hot Club de France, he has maintained a high standard for vivacious interpretations and improvisations. It is the listening public's good fortune that he recovered from undeserved obscurity after the ending of his partnership with Reinhardt shortly before the latter's death in the early 1950's. Indeed, in latter years he produced many enjoyable recordings with a variety of partners in small-group settings.
Live is yet another, performed at the Festijazz of Rimouski in Quebec Province in 1994. Grappelli dazzles his audience with his effortless swing, gorgeous tone, long melody lines, and a repertoire nearly straight out of the Great American Songbook. Pizzarelli and Burr each get a bit of solo space as well, with two unaccompanied features ("Makin' whoopee" and "In a sentimental mood," switched on the CD's track list) for the bassist, and one (Reinhardt's "Nuages") for the guitarist, who will please fans of his solo recordings with this track. These two have solos on some of the other tracks as well. For me it's unfortunate that Pizzarelli's solos don't escape the rhythm guitar role which he plays so well as an accompanist, but it's not really his show. It's the violinist's, and this minimal rhythm section supports him to perfection, alternating a two-beat feel redolent of the Hot Club, with a more modern four-four beat. Grappelli soars above, decorating his melodic inspiration with lightning runs, double-stops, and other bits of violinist's wizardry. His seemingly boundless energy pours out over the enthusiastic audience, well captured on this most enjoyable recording.
Track Listing: All God's chillun got rhythm; I thought about you; It's you or no one; Night and day; Makin' Whoopee; I get a kick out of you; Someone to watch over me; Blue moon; Crazy rhythm; The very thought of you; Fascinating rhythm; Limehouse blues; Honeysuckle rose; In a sentimental mood; Them there eyes; Nuages; Daphne; Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans; Sweet Georgia Brown; Lady be good
Personnel: Stephane Grappelli, violin; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Jon Burr, bass