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Album Review

There are two distinct periods covered by this compilation of sessions Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France recorded for a number of French labels. The first was just before Grappelli left France to go to England, not wanting to be under the Nazi Germany-sponsored Vichy government during World War II. Reinhardt stayed in France to head a successful band. The second was recorded following the war, when Grappelli returned to France to continue to perform with Reinhardt until 1949. Regardless of the time period, the music here is vintage Reinhardt/Grappelli. It swings, it's expressive, and most of the time, it's fun. Reinhardt lays the foundation for Count Basie's "one more time" "April in Paris" routine on "Sweet Georgia Brown," with a similar call, "one more." Reinhardt's grasp of harmony, incredible technique, and powerful sense of rhythm are the trademarks of these (and virtually all of his) sessions. One hears these attributes used to their fullest on such tunes as "My Sweet" and "Liza." The album has one track where Reinhardt plays solo guitar, "Improvisation No. 2." But his playing is more expressive and effective when in a group. Grappelli shows that he was no slouch at the piano on "The Man I Love" and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me." American expatriate Beryl Davis vocalizes on "Undecided" and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me." The contributions to the swing feel of the pieces by brother Joseph Reinhardt, while never fully appreciated, are considerable. This album demonstrates why Django Reinhardt was such a celebrity as a guitarist and why he had a significant influence on guitarists from all parts of the world for years.

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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