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Reinhardt, Django - H.C.Q. Strut (1938-1939)

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Album Review

Volume five of Naxos' tour through the works of the Hot Club Quintette of France goes from the middle of 1938 to the group's breakup in the summer of 1939, divided between releases on the Decca and Swing labels. Nowhere is there any sign that the band was beginning to exhaust its endless supply of fresh hot licks and irresistible Continental swing. "Swing From Paris" starts the disc off swinging with three cuts from the Quintette, which then gives way to three duets with Django Reinhardt backed by Stephane Grappelli's thumping yet accomplished piano (his actual first instrument, one that he would play in public for the rest of his life). Django also demonstrates his abilities as a self-contained musician with three unaccompanied solo guitar tracks, including a lovely improvised piece featuring chords and whole-tone scales that is simply called "Improvisation" and an Andalusian-drenched "Echoes of Spain." The Quintette returns, with replacement third guitar and bass players, in "Hungaria," its madly uninhibited swing unimpaired by the changeover. Django displays an especially crafty gift for economy on "Jeepers Creepers" and trucks at full speed through his not-well-known, rapid-fire original "Twelfth Night." For some reason, Grappelli and guitarist Eugene Vees are not present on "I'll See You in My Dreams," leaving Django in charge of a trio and not losing an iota of propulsion. As usual in this series, the transfers are truer to the bass-rich original sources than most. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi


Born: 23 January 1910 in Liberchies, Belgium

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

Django Reinhardt was the first hugely influential jazz figure to emerge from Europe -- and he remains the most influential European to this day, with possible competition from Joe Zawinul, George Shearing, John McLaughlin, his old cohort Stephane Grappelli and a bare handful of others. A free-spirited gypsy, Reinhardt wasn't the most reliable person in the world, frequently wandering off into the countryside on a whim. Yet Reinhardt came up with a unique way of propelling the humble acoustic guitar...
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