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The Swinging Mister Alix

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Album Review

Alix Combelle (1912-1978) was the greatest French tenor saxophonist of his generation. He was also a skilled arranger and a substantial clarinetist. If one were to search for Combelle's U.S. counterpart, the logical choice would be Eddie Condon's old schoolmate Bud Freeman, or perhaps Bob Crosby's master improviser Eddie Miller. Closely affiliated with Django Reinhardt from 1935, Combelle was a vital element in the European jazz scene for many years, and didn't retire until around 1965, so that his recorded legacy fits neatly into a 30-year time span. The first really comprehensive Combelle retrospective was issued in three volumes by the producers of the Classics Chronological Series during the 1990s, covering the years 1935-1943. Released in 1999, EPM Musique's Jazz Archives Combelle sampler contains 20 delightful recordings dating from 1937-1942. A tidy core sample of his best works, it may serve as the ideal introduction to this artist. Combelle is heard with U.S. jazz heroes like saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, and Fletcher Allen; clarinetist Danny Polo; trumpeters Bill Coleman and Louis Bacon; pianist Freddy Johnson; bassist Wilson Myers; and drummer Tommy Benford. European participants include, of course, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, with trumpeter Philippe Brun, saxophonist Andre Ekyan, saxophonist and clarinetist Hubert Rostaing, violinist Michel Warlop, bassist Louis Vola, and drummer Pierre Fouad. If you are wise or lucky enough to obtain a copy of this excellent disc, don't be surprised or ashamed if you find yourself tracking down his complete works, as Parisian swing from this period is remarkable for its friendly surefootedness, warmth, and finesse.


Born: 15 June 1912 in Paris, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s

Despite the continuing popularity of Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli, and Gypsy swing, Alix Combelle has yet to be recognized worldwide for his steadfast contributions to the development and establishment of that tradition. An accomplished saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, and bandleader, Combelle was a vital figure in the development of European jazz during the 1930s who made dozens of recordings with Reinhardt and members of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, and it is with Reinhardt...
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The Swinging Mister Alix, Alix Combelle
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