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Stephane Grappelli: Celebrating Grappelli

This session turns out to be a curtain call for Grappelli, who appears on half the 12 tracks playing with as much warmth, spirit and drive as I’ve heard from him in years. He could be a bit flowery at times, which was fine live but not always on record. In the context of this excellent tribute, we hear him at his best, which for swing or jazz violin fans is all that need be said. But the main feature of the record, Martin Taylor’s Spirit of Django group, deserves more than passing mention. This is no Hot Club Quintet copy, with a line-up that includes Dave O’Higgins on saxes and Jack Emblow on accordion, significant elements in a group which relies on very elaborate harmonized lines. Both are fine players on their own as well as reference points to periods of Django’s work other than the Hot Club; the accordion evokes the musette Reinhardt began with, the sax the later period. Taylor says his playing in this group is “me in disguise,” and I confess to enjoying it more than any of the legion of Django-style players, because he always throws in a few of his own ideas. We also get Martin in a couple of excellent duets with Grappelli, and guest appearances that deserve more space than we have here.

This is certainly an appropriate near-finale; a celebration not only of the association with Django for which Grappelli will always be primarily remembered, but of long and outstanding subsequent service with many other excellent players, some of the best of which are heard here.

Originally Published