Stephane Grappelli: Stephane's Tune / Vintage Grappelli

C. Michael Bailey By

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Stephane Grappelli— then and ... then.

These two collections serve as very nice bookends to a jazz violin career that spanned almost 70 years. Stephane Grappelli was born in Paris in 1908. Largely self-taught on the violin and piano, Grappelli studied briefly at the Paris Conservatoire before meeting the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt— Charlie Parker to his Dizzy Gillespie. From 1933 through 1939, Grappelli and Reinhardt, as member of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, recorded some of the most memorable jazz on the main continent. In 1939, while performing in England, World War II broke out and Reinhardt decided to return to France, while Grappelli elected to remain in England. In the post war period, Grappelli and Reinhardt recorded "reunion" discs but never returned to the rapport the two had in prewar France. Grappelli went on to record with everyone from Duke Ellington to Oscar Peterson to Jen-Luc Ponty. He died in Paris, December 1, 1997, at the age of 89 years.

Stephane's Tune is a collection of Grappelli memorabilia recorded between 1938 and 1942 with Reinhardt, Arthur Young and Hatchett's Swingtet. These recordings were culled from the Decca catalog and recorded at 11 separate recording dates. These pieces were assembled from the 78 rpm recordings by Peter Dempsey, an avid collector and noted tenor in the employ of Naxos International. The music, to its credit, is excellent and representative of Grappelli during the war years. The listener will be tempted to claim this music as the soundtrack for wartime London and Paris. The sonics, while better than expected, are grainy and nostalgic, as are some of the selections. Some of the older pop tunes might be classified as quaint. "It Had to Be You," "Alexander's Ragtime Band, "The Sheik of Araby," and "Margie" all have a simple familiarity. "You Made Me Love You," "After You've gone," and "In the Mood" are more mainstream with that unmistakable Grappelli lilt. This is a nice collection for the uninitiated at a price for the uninitiated.

Vintage Grappelli is a concord Jazz twofer that pairs Grappelli's 1980 live recording, At The Winery and his 1981 studio recording, Vintage 1981. Both discs sport the guitar prowess of Englishman Martin Taylor with a second guitar and bass. Grappelli is at home in this context. His playing has scarcely waned in the 40 years between these collections. The repertoire has changed with the times. Grappelli's love affair with pop tunes of the day continues with "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" and "Isn't She Lovely." The standards remain strictly down the middle of Tin Pan Alley. The sonics are, as one would expect, better than the Naxos release. The playing by all is at the same level. Grappelli so thoroughly dominated Jazz Violin that for the enthusiast it is hard to justify not buying both of these fine discs.

Track Listing:

Stephane's Tune:It Had To Be You; Nocturne; Alexander's Ragtime Band; You Made Me Love Me; After You've Gone; Oh Johnny; Stephane's Tune; Bluebirds In The Moonlight; It's A Happy Day; Blue Ribbon Rag; Coal Black Mammy; Ma, He's Makin' Eyes At Me; The Sheik Of Araby; In The Mood; Oh! By Jingo; Sweet Sue; Noel Brings The Swing; Margie; You


Stephane's Tune: Stephane Grappelli: Violin, Piano; Django Reinhardt: Guitars; Hatchett's Swingtet

Vintage Grappelli:(Disc 1) Stephane Grappelli: Violin, Viola; Martin Taylor, John Etheridge: Guitars; Jack Sewing: Bass. (Disc 2) Stephane Grappelli: Violin, keyboards; Martin Taylor, Mike Gari: guitars; Jack Sewing: Bass.

Title: Stephane's Tune / Vintage Grappelli | Year Released: 2001


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