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Swing 39

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Album Review

There is something carefree and joyful about the music of Django Reinhardt; something that comes bubbling to the surface every time he begins a wild run of notes on his acoustic guitar. Of course the swinging style of Stephane Grappelli's violin doesn't hurt. Nor do great songs like "Tea for Two," "My Melancholy Baby," and "Jeepers Creepers." Swing 39 captures 17 tracks by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, including a number of alternate versions, on the eve of Grappelli leaving the group (because of the war). Two bouncy versions of "Jeepers Creepers" start things off, and while the pacing of both cuts is similar, each guitar solo is fresh and fundamentally different. Reinhardt creates endless variety through his ability to solo with chords or single notes, bend strings, and constantly alter the tempo. The band transforms two versions of "I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight" (usually a sad thing to wonder) into bright and cheerful melodies, and magically reworks "Tea for Two" three times. The last version of "Tea for Two" slows the pace, adds 30 seconds, and fully captures the romanticism of the piece. Reinhardt swings hard, adding little runs and minor-key flourishes on two originals, "Twelfth Year" and "Hungaria." "Hungaria" receives a particularly engaging workout, with the master assertively developing his lead lines, each building from the last but always expressing new ideas. For those unfamiliar with Reinhardt's fabulous guitar (shame on you!), Swing 39 offers a great place to get started. Fans will enjoy dissecting and comparing the multiple takes. Either way, this is a fine album, with Reinhardt and Grappelli sounding simply marvelous. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi


Born: January 23, 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 guitar...
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Swing 39, Django Reinhardt
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