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Album Review

Django Reinhardt looms largest in European jazz. He looms so large it is sometimes easy to forget that the three-guitar lineup of his Hot Club and the support of jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli is very important to the Parisian swing sound. Grappelli and Reinhardt trade leads in front of a canvas of bass and two-guitar rhythms. This light, airy swing has not even any percussion in it. The resulting jazz string band arrangements have a country-jazz, almost Western swing feel. All but one track is from the Hot Club's golden period of the late '30s. Pieces recorded with minimal preparation figure as showcases for Reinhardt and Grappelli's stunning improvisational ability and mind meld. Several pieces feature vocals by Freddy Taylor. Beryl Davis sings two numbers and five tracks from 1938 feature Grappelli exhibiting his skills piano in a duet setting with Reinhardt. The early jazz fan finds 50 shining examples of pre-World War II hot jazz included in this two-CD set.

Biography

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...
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