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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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DJANGO REINHARDT & STÉPHANE GRAPPELLI

Nuages

Retrospective RTS 4140 (2CDs)

 

 

 


 
CD1
1  Nuages
2. Dinah
3. Tiger Rag
4.  Oh, Lady be Good!
5. I Saw Stars
6. I'm Confessin'
7. Blue Drag
8. Chasing Shadows
9. I've Had my Moments
10. Djangology
11. St. Louis Blues
12. I Got Rhythm
13. I've Found a New Baby
14. Moonglow
15. Oriental Shuffle
16. After You've Gone
17. Limehouse Blues
18. Swing Guitars
19. Shine
20. In the Still of the Night
21. Sweet Chorus
22. Exactly Like You
23. The Charleston
24. You're Driving Me Crazy
25. Tears
26. Solitude
27. Ain't Misbehavin'
 
CD2
1. Rose Room
2. Body and Soul
3. When Day is Done
4. Runnin' Wild
5. Chicago
6. Mystery Pacific
7. The Sheik of Araby
8. Minor Swing
9. Honeysuckle Rose
10. Sweet Georgia Brown
11. Night and Day
12. My Sweet
13. Souvenirs
14. Daphne
15. Stompin' at Decca
16. Billets Doux
17. Swing from Paris
18. Them There Eyes
19. Swing '39
20. The Japanese Sandman
21. I Wonder Where my Baby is Tonight
22. Out of Nowhere
23. H.C.Q. Strut
24. Love's Melody
25. Belleville
26. Manoir de mes Rêves

 

Django Reinhardt popularised a whole style of music - which is often referred to as "gypsy jazz". Not only that: he gave rise to a seemingly endless stream of imitators, who all wanted to play the guitar like Django. Some of them achieved this aim - although they had the apparent advantage of a complete set of fingers on their left hands, whereas Django had two of his fingers badly damaged in a fire. Reinhardt became famous in the 1930s in the Quintet of the Hot Club of France alongside violinist Stéphane Grappelli. The Quintet had a seldom-varying line-up of violin, two or three guitars, and double bass.

The Quintet's sound has become so familiar (and so copied) that it is easy to forget just what a pioneer and virtuoso Django was - as was Stéphane Grappelli. The two blended beautifully together, as you can hear on this generous double CD of 53 tracks recorded by the Quintet between 1934 and 1946 (the front cover says "1934-1949" but there is nothing here after 1946). Reinhardt's earthy but transcendent approach was nicely balanced by Grappelli's elegant violin, with the latter often soaring above the guitars. The rhythm guitars were generally restricted to chugging out thick, chunky chords which could sound stodgy, although Reinhardt and Grappelli compensated for the stodginess with their flights into the upper atmosphere.

The two leaders worked well as a team, because they were both such melodic players. You can take at random virtually any track from this album and hear how the pair improvised with tuneful radiance. And this collection contains most of the Quintet's finest recordings, including not only their most famous Nuages but also I'm Confessin', Limehouse Blues and Minor Swing. Django and Stéphane collaborated in writing such tunes as Djangology, Oriental Shuffle, Swing Guitars, Billets Doux and Swing '39.

The Quintet's career was interrupted by the Second World War but it was reunited after the war, and this compilation includes four good tracks from 1946. These include Django's compositions Nuages and Manoir de mes Rêves - the latter allowing the duo to play without any other backing, creating magic with plenty of space and no sense of pressure.

 
Tony Augarde

 



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