French guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)
Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelly "Souvenirs - The Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France" (London/Decca, 1988)
This is a set of later recordings by the fabled Hot Club of Paris, with dazzling instrumental flights by gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelly. Most of these tracks date from 1938 and 1939, just before WWII cut the group's travels short. Also included are a dash of postwar postwar recording -- all material which is a little less fiery than their groundbreaking recordings of the early '30s. But for fans of the sweet, as opposed to the hot, this is a pretty nice set. Basically these guys were so good, it's hard to fault anything they did. British big band vocalist Beryl Davis croons on a few tunes; she's no Ella Fitzgerald, but again, the material is pretty sweet.
Django Reinhardt "Peche A La Mouche" (Verve/PolyGram, 1992)
The "gypsy jazz" guitar style pioneered by the much-revered Django Reinhardt underpins many of the best musette recordings. This is some of his later work, made in 1947 and 1953, when Reinhardt was in a state of semi-retirement. He had also become fascinated with bebop, which was the universal jazz form at the time. Paradoxically, his interest in the pyrotechnics of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker led Reinhardt to play in a style which was less dynamic and more lyrical than his classic work from the '30s, and he became a more subtly expressive player. Like Louis Armstrong in his later years, Reinhardt was undeniably a master musician, playing with a richness and soulful depth that few musicians could hope to match. Sadly, he died of a brain hemorrage not long after the last of these recordings, in 1953. This 2-CD set is pretty swell... definitely worth checking out!
Django Reinhardt "The Complete Django Reinhardt And Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France Swing/HMV Sessions 1936-1948" (Mosaic, 2002)
Hard to beat a box set from Mosaic. One of the all-time great reissue labels...
Django Reinhardt/Various Artists "...And The Singers" (Challenge, 2006)
Early work featuring Reinhardt as an accompanist for Jean Sablon, Charles Trenet and Pierre Lord...
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.1: 1928-1934" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.2: 1934-1935" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.3: 1935" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.4: 1935-1936" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.5: 1936-1937" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.6: 1937" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.7: 1937-1938" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.8: 1938-1939" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.9: 1939-1940" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.10: 1940" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.11: 1940-1942" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.12: 1943-1945" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.13: 1946-1947" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.14: 1947" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.15: 1947" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.16: 1948" (Fremeaux, 2002)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.17: 1949" (Fremeaux, 2003)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.18: 1949-1950" (Fremeaux, 2003)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.19: 1950-1952" (Fremeaux, 2005)
Django Reinhardt "Integrale, v.20: 1953" (Fremeaux, 2005)
Stephane Grappelli "1935-1940" (Classics, 1994)
Stephane Grappelli "1941-1943" (Classics, 1994)
The famed partnership of swing violinist Stephane Grappelli and the extraordinary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt came to an end in 1939, when their band, the Hot Club of Paris was touring in England and war broke out on the Continental mainland. Rinehardt rushed back to France, where he worked throughout the war and the Nazi occupation, while Grappelli opted to stay in the UK, where he promptly picked up the pieces and started a new musical career. This is a the second volume of an outstanding series collecting Grappelli's wartime work in chronological order. The album opens with some unusual large-combo recordings, made in a style that sounds more appropriate to a Fred Astaire dance film, than the sleek, sweet and somewhat spicy jazz of the Hot Club years. A harp and second fiddle blunt the distinctive lilt of Grapelli's bow, while piano lines and a vibrophone fill in for the counterpoint parts previously taken by Rinehardt... The pianist in this case, and throughout the rest of the CD, is none other than George Shearing, one of England's best-known musicians, and later quite the king of easy listening style... Also of note are the vocals by Beryl Davis, one of the best singers of the UK's booming sweet band scene. An intriguing look at Grapelli's early solo work!
Stephane Grappelli "Stephane's Tune -- Original Recordings: 1938-1941" (Naxos Jazz, 2002)
This disc covers much of the same time period as the Classics album above, but also includes a few earlier tunes recorded with Django Reinhardt, and features Grappelli working with British pianist Arthur Young, who recorded with Hatchett's Swingtette until a war-related injury sidelined him, making room for the young George Shearing to enter the band. Shearing is heard on the last few tracks of this set; Beryl Davis also sings on several numbers. It must be said that many of these arrangements are pretty wimpy or florid, and that Grappelli's jazzy tendencies are often buried in pure schmaltz. Still, there's plenty of fun stuff to be heard on here!
Jean Sablon "J'Attendrai" (ASV Living Era, 1995)
Of the great Depression-era French singers, Jean Sablon may be my favorite. He had a natural, easygoing grace, and a jazz-informed Tin Pan Alley feel that makes him sound like sort of a Gallic Bing Crosby. These two dozen tracks -- all recorded in the 1930s -- are Sablon at his peak, and the several tracks which also feature the great gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt are just icing on the cake. Lovely, warm-hearted, eminently enjoyable music.
Michel Warlop "Modernistic: 1933-1943" (EPM, 1993)
French violinist Michel Warlop came onto the booming Parisian music scene of the 1930s as an accompanist for such stars as Germain Sablon and Maurice Chevalier; in his own work he pursued a more swinging style, drawn to the "hot" jazz of gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and his longtime partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli. Warlop also indulged in somewhat riper, more romantic material, popular dance music with an orchestral hue -- this generously programmed album gathers fine examples of both styles. Among the any musicians are Django and Joseph Reinhardt, Alix Combelle, Andre Ekyan, and a host of French jazz and pop luminaries. Nice collection of a lesser-known French jazz pioneer. Includes some fun vocal numbers, too!
Various Artists "JAZZ GITAN: 1939-1943" (EPM Jazz Archives, 1999)
Everybody knows about Django Reinhardt, right? King of the "gypsy jazz" guitarists and all? But how about the Ferrat family? Matlo, Barro, Challin, Jean and Serane Ferrat -- who learned from and competed with the almighty Django as stars of the new jazz guitar style -- are the real focus of this astounding collection. This disc should blow your mind. There is one token Reinhardt track, but mostly this is all about the Ferrats, playing in a variety of combinations and settings, and man, were they good. In some ways, sure, they sounded a lot like Django. There's a strong surface similarity -- you hear that wicked acoustic guitar and recognize Django's influence, but the Serrat's had an unruly edge, a slightly less tamed, less refined feel that's hard to put your finger on. The template is the same, but the results are unique, and it's fascinating to hear some "new" voices arise from a style that historically has been so completely dominated by a single artist. At any rate, this is a very, very nice collection. Serious gypst jazz fans will definitely want to track this one down. Highly recommended!
Various Artists "JAZZ IN PARIS: JAZZ SOUS L'OCCUPATION" (Universal/Gitanes, 2003)
A swell set featuring Eddie Barclay, Christian Bellest, Andre Eykian, Dany Kane, Jo Reinhardt and others...
Various Artists "SWING DE MUSETTE" (Iris Musique, 1996)
Anyone who wants to look into the French love of American-style jazz should try their best to track down this fab set of sweet swing-flavored musette from the 1930s and '40s. The masters of the genre are all present, including accordeonists Tony Murena, Gus Visuer and Vetese Guerino, along with gypsy jazz guitarists Django Reinhardt and his protege/competitors the Ferrats, and brother Joseph Reinhardt. Great stuff - an indispensible collection for fans of the style.
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