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Stéphane Grappelli

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Album Review

This is the first of Stephane Grappelli's sessions as a leader during the 1950s to be issued on CD, which is rather surprising given the availability of his work from the last two decades of his life. Grappelli is heard exclusively in a quartet with pianist Maurice Vander, bassist Pierre Michelot, and drummer Baptiste Reilles, except for two takes of "Someone to Watch Over Me," when Vander makes an ill-advised switch to harpsichord. The violinist is not nearly as aggressive as he would become in the decades to follow, seemingly concentrating more on achieving a beautiful tone than dazzling listeners with his considerable abilities as an improviser. Most of the material recorded during these three dates remained in his repertoire for the remainder of his career; with up-tempo selections like "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "'S Wonderful" getting the nod over most of the ballad interpretations. One surprise is the inclusion of Alec Wilder's "I'll Be Around" (listed as previously unreleased but it appeared on a later Barclay LP following the original issue); this may be Grappelli's only recording of this lovely standard. Although this isn't an essential CD for swing fans, the reappearance of this once hard to find music will be welcomed by fans of Stephane Grappelli.


Born: January 26, 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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Improvisations, Stéphane Grappelli
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