The legend of Django Reinhardt is the stuff of jazz folklore; the nomadic gypsy had limited use of the fingers on his left hand, yet still managed to create blistering solos, all while creating some of the best jazz to come out of Europe. In fact, Reinhardt spawned his own style, and like many a folk hero, there are those who aspired to his level of musicianship yet come up lacking.
Reinhardt's music still sounds fresh and electrifying to this day, and continues to find an eager audience. The question about this compilation of four LPs (which are compilations in and of themselves) is how comprehensive they are. Most of these recordings have been already been compiled on excellent sets on JSP. The records on Four Classic Albums Plus originally skimmed the cream of the crop of Reinhardt's work, making this compilation as good as any a place to start to get acquainted with the great Django Reinhardt.
The first CD covers the celebrated Quintet Du Hot Club De France, which included the rhythm section of two guitars, a bass, Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli trading the solo spot. These recordings are the stuff of legend and absolutely captivating, especially with the lesser material removed. The album originally entitled Django covers earlier material from a half a year, spanning 1934 to 1935, while the second, entitled django covers the more celebrated recordings of 1937. Both feature standards like "Lady Be Good," "Swanee River," and "Tiger Rag," in the inimitable Reinhardt style: propulsive, spiky rhythms, a relentless sense of swing, and bristling guitar arpeggios and swooping violin passages. The first half of the record has three vocals by Jerry Mengo while the latter half of the album has a few non-quintet recordings, such as a couple of Reinhardt/Grappelli duets and one from the Eddie South sessions.
The second disc spans the late-1930s to the mid-'40s and finds Reinhardt in the company of others besides the classic quintet. These recordings also capture some terrific Reinhardt originals like "Swing 41" and "Swing 42" and "Nuages." In addition to a few Hot Club recordings, there are several recordings with Hubert Rostaing taking over for Grappelli. While not as celebrated or notorious as the recordings with the classic lineup, they are still terrific tracks. There is also a trio of solo recordingsa rare treatas well as some with larger ensembles (including his big band). In addition, there are four tracks that the Quintet recorded with Larry Adler on harmonica, otherwise available only on a three-CD compilation.
As an overview of Reinhardt's careercontaining his best recordings while presenting some of the more obscure selections in his catalogthis Avid set is as good as any other available. Reinhardt may have died early in life, but left numerous recordings, all good enough that it's virtually impossible to create a bad compilation.
CD1: Oh, Lady Be Good; Dinah; Confessin'; I Saw Stars; Tiger Rag; The Continental; Blue Drag; Sweet Sue; The Sunshine of Your Smile; Swanee River; Charleston; Chicago; You're Driving Me Crazy; In A Sentimental Mood; I've Found A New Baby; Alabamy Bound; Lady Be Good; Minor Swing; Viper's Dream; Swingin' With Django; Paramount Stomp; Bouncin' Around; St. Louis Blues; Swing Guitars; Daphne; Lover Come Back To Me; I Got Rhythm. CD2: You Took Advantage Of Me; Sweet Georgia Brown; My Serenade; Naguine; Stephen's Blues; You Rascal You; I'll See You In My Dreams; Stockholm; Echoes of Spain; Younger Generation; Blues; Vendredi 13; Rythme Futur; Daphne; Mabel; Djangology; Swing 41; Swing 42; Nuages; Sweet Sue; Nuages; Sweet Sue; Limehouse Blues; Place de Brouckere; Black Eyes; Body And Soul; Lover Come Back to Me; I Got Rhythm; My Melancholy Baby.
Django Reinhardt: guitar; Stephane Grappelli: violin; Joseph Reinhardt: guitar; Roger Chaput: guitar; Louis Vola: bass; Pierre Ferret: guitar; Marcel Blanch: guitar; Eddie South: violin; Michel Waldrop: violin; Wilson Myers: bass; Eugene Vees: guitar; Louis Gaste: guitar; Eugene d'Mellemmes: bass; Emmanuel Soudieux: bass; Phillippe Brun: trumpet; Hubert Rostaing: clarinet; Alix Combelle: clarinet, tenor sax; Tony Rovira: bass; Pierre Fouad: drums.