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Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli

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Album Review

Violinist Didier Lockwood tackled a formidable task by dedicating an entire CD to the legendary violinist Stephane Grappelli, who died just shy of his 90th birthday in December, 1997. Although Grappelli's influence on his playing is obvious at times, he is no carbon copy. He generally has a darker tone and doesn't use nearly as many up-tempo runs. With two brilliant partners, bassist Niels Pedersen (who worked with Grappelli on a few dates) and guitarist Birelli Lagrene, Lockwood does a credible job. The opener is an obscure Grappelli original, "Les Valseuses," a gentle swinger that opens with Lockwood playing pizzicato, not something one immediately associates with Grappelli. The leader contributed two originals, the easygoing "Barbizon Blues" and a light samba, "The Kid." His high-pitched opening to "Someday My Prince Will Come" is more reminiscent of Jean-Luc Ponty in the early '70s, while "Beautiful Love" features the intricate interplay of the trio. Sonny Rollins' "Pent-Up House" was a favortie of Grappelli's, and this lively bop vehicle features brilliant solos by Pedersen and Lagrene as well as the leader. Lockwood captures the spirit of Grappelli beautifully in his rendition of "My One and Only Love" while retaining his own sound. There's also material dating from the beginning of Grappelli's career that he continued to play to the end of his life. The sensual ballad "Nuages," the plucky "Minor Swing," and the somewhat dark "Tears" all come from the period of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which he co-led with the equally brilliant guitarist Django Reinhardt. This recording will also hold up well when compared to the late violin master's own versions. Recommended.


Born: 11 February 1956 in Calais, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Didier Lockwood has had a diverse career, ranging from fusion to swing and advanced hard bop. In the 1980s, he was considered the next in a line of great French violinists after Stephane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty, but he maintained a fairly low profile in the 1990s. Lockwood began studying violin when he was six. Ten years later, he stopped his formal training and joined a rock group. He played in Paris with Aldo Romano and Daniel Humair, among others, met Grappelli and toured with him. He had...
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Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli, Didier Lockwood
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