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September 2006

Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt: Memorial
Empire Music Group

This two-disc collection is a worthwhile study of Django Reinhardt’s later period, focusing on 1947. A number of these 78-rpm sides are also available on the 1992 Verve/PolyGram collection Peche à la Mouche: The Great Blue Star Sessions 1947–1953. But the mastering on Memorial is punchier and there are more tracks (39 versus 33). The personnel and session details on Memorial are more than adequate; the fluorescent cover art one could take or leave. While Peche à la Mouche culls music from five different 1947 dates, Memorial raises that number to nine. However, the Verve package offers more substantial liner notes, not to mention eight quartet tracks from March 1953, two months before Reinhardt’s death.

By 1947 Reinhardt was playing electric guitar and edging into bebop, without a violin in sight (but with clarinets aplenty). Amplified and not, his solos remain adventurous and utterly distinctive, if harsh in timbre at times. Peche à la Mouche sets out the 1947 material in chronological order, but Memorial shuffles the dates, digging deeper into the vaults with “Melodie Au Crepuscule,” “Blues Clair,” “Swing 39,” “Swing 41,” “Feerie,” “Dinette,” “Del Salle,” “Vendredi 13,” “Sweet Chorus” and more.

Originally published in September 2006
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