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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.
This album is an example of musical genius that could be overlooked because of the primitive nature of recording technology available at the time. When processed through effects available using Audio Hijack Pro, the sound is improved dramatically, and the musical stylings shine through. The treatment of these standards is absolutely brilliant.
More influential than we realize
Le Club Hot evokes the swing era at its most basic level of energy: chugging rhythm with sweet melody swinging over it. For some, it's cute, and so it finds its way onto a soundtrack album -- fair enough. But listen to Django's deft, intricate solos, and realize that every rock guitar god looks back to him as a major influence. Let Stephane Grappelli's light lyricism transport you; let his romantic phrasing warm you like wine. It's just good stuff, whatever your age or era.
One of the best introductions to Django
This compilation was one of the first to be offered on CD and remans one of the best. Jaunty and crackling, it has the wonderful signature swing of Django while he was playing with the Hot Club of France. Wonderful.
Born: January 23, 1910 in Liberchies, Belgium
Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s