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Steff and Slam - The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions (Paris, France 1975)

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Album Review

It only seems natural that violinist Stephane Grappelli and bassist Slam Stewart, two masters of swing whose careers both got underway in the 1930s, would eventually record together; they are joined by pianist Johnny Guarnieri, guitarist Jimmy Shirley, and drummer Jackie Williams. Things start off well with a lively run through "I Would Do Anything for You," featuring the leader's matchless violin and Stewart's trademarked bowing while singing in unison an octave above. Most of the rest of the numbers are also songs that both men likely played countless times during their respective long careers; there are no disappointments. Grappelli plays solo piano on two originals, "Sysmo" and "Flonville," while "Sweet and Lovely" was added from a different date, with Roland Hanna, Bucky Pizzarelli, George Duvivier, and Oliver Jackson taking over for the earlier rhythm section. Recommended.


Born: 26 January 1908 in Paris, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

One of the all-time great jazz violinists (ranking with Joe Venuti and Stuff Smith as one of the big three of pre-bop), Stéphane Grappelli's longevity and consistently enthusiastic playing did a great deal to establish the violin as a jazz instrument. He was originally self-taught as both a violinist and a pianist, although during 1924-28 he studied at the Paris Conservatoire. Grappelli played in movie theaters and dance bands before meeting guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1933. They hit it off musically...
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Steff and Slam - The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions (Paris, France 1975), Stéphane Grappelli
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