This is very much, in ‘football-speak’,
a disc of two halves. The first six tracks
are Grappelli originals and all recorded in
1973. The remainder are compositions by pianist
Gérard Gustin and were set down in
Nice six years later. Grappelli was clearly
in relaxed, semi-classical mood when writing
his six; there’s a sense of coasting, to be
frank, that his fruity vibrato (much wider
than one normally hears) doesn’t do much to
disguise. There’s a semi-demi quotation from
You’re Getting To Be A Habit With
Me in his tune Emotion but apart
from Sewing’s dependably swinging bass on
Gerba there’s little to detain the
enthusiast, much less the more casual listener.
The later date comes from
a time when Grappelli was enjoying renewed
celebrity with his international quintet.
Gustin’s tunes and arrangements are more straight
ahead with bop tinges. There’s a tighter sense
of balance and the session sounds more keyed
up altogether. Gustin has the time to stretch
out and solo on Country Club in a way
he couldn’t six years earlier and there’s
bluesy swing to Kent where Cavallaro
kicks the front line with his best playing
of the date. Grappelli responds with utter
sang froid and considerable wit.
In the end though neither
date is sufficiently galvanizing or imaginative
and at thirty five minutes this is pretty
short measure. More for completists.