Wednesday, August 7, 2019

C'est Djaaazz!

The thump-thump four-square rhythm of The Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France (snappy band name!) dissuades many from enjoying Django Reinhardt - and Stéphane Grappelli - as much as they might. It hasn't dated well, like a lot of music from the thirties and earlier. Today's Cornucopia Of Sound© offers two opportunities to hear him outside that familiar setting.

In Solitaire is a collection ("complete"?) of his solo playing in the studio - warm-ups, interludes, rehearsals, and even, if the applause is anything to go by, a live concert performance. There's a beautiful, relaxed classicism to his playing, which would be breathtaking coming from a man with a full count of fingers. Check out the Djenius clip posted earlier to see how he managed with that crippled fretboard hand. You still won't believe it.

Nuits de Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a collection of sessions from '51-'53. If you don't like jazz, this won't change your mind, but it features the great man near the end of his life, plugged in to electricity and the contemporary jazz scene like he was born for it. Thirty-seven glorious minutes of it.

A couple of albums never recorded as albums, each with its own very different mood, and each a treasure.


  1. Ah, Farquhar, merci! Huge Django fan, but did not have the solo lp. Was fortunate to see Stephane Wrembel perform about a year ago in NYC, and his set included many of the Improvisation numbers. Now, if I can only figure out a way to listen to this without the damn screws seeing the tears running down my cheek..….

    1. I saw Stéphane Grappelli a couple times, and he was dazzling. Full of joy at playing. His partnership with Django, apart from anything else, is one of the great friendships of the world. The cover of that solo album shows the Great Man - so much better than a god - at home, with his fish poles on the wall. Grappelli often had to go and drag him away from the riverbank to attend a gig.

      About the crying in the cell - never a good idea. Covertly eating an onion, I once had Warden O'Shaughnessy - "Ness The Mess" - you must remember him - come in to comfort me. I still bleed internally.

    2. yes, Ness the Mess, the man who made soap on a rope the most coveted possession in the joint.
      Nice eye re the poles in the album cover. Did get to see Grappelli perform once - with McCoy Tyner. But, Grappelli was admittedly under the weather, and he mostly let Tyner solo throughout the songs. Still, was glad to have had the opportunity to see him on stage.

  2. Electric is how I like Django, thanks