1. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
2. The Way You Look Tonight
3. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
4. A Fine Romance
6. Ol' Man River
7. All The Things You Are
8. Pick Yourself Up
9. Why Do I Love You?
10. I Won't Dance
11. Long Ago And Far Away
Stéphane Grappelli - Violin, piano
Marc Fossett - Guitar, vocals
Martin Taylor - Guitar
Jack Sewing - Bass
Martin Drew - Drums (tracks 2, 6, 8)
Alf Bigden - Drums (tracks 3, 10)
Graham Ward - Drums (tracks 4, 9)
Ettore Stratta - Conductor
This is a reissue of an album first released in 1987, ten years before Stéphane Grappelli died. He most often played with a quartet but here he is accompanied by a string orchestra. Thankfully, the strings are restrained and don't obtrude onto Stéphane's graceful, romantic violin improvisations. All praise goes to arrangers Jorge Calandrelli, Laurie Holloway and Daniel Freiberg.
Another bonus is the two guitars of Marc Fossett and Martin Taylor, who both provide discreet but effective backup to fill out the sound, as well as performing tasteful solos. A good example is the strumming that begins The Way You Look Tonight, after which the guitars punctuate Grappelli's gorgeous playing and provide rhythm to boost Jack Sewing's dependable double bass.
The whole album is a delight, not only because of Stéphane's brilliance but also because he plays some of the loveliest songs ever written. Jerome Kern's genius can be heard in such classics as A Fine Romance and All The Things You Are. A vicar once told me that he thought the latter was the most beautiful song he had ever heard, and I am inclined to agree. It certainly sounds seductive in Grappelli's soulful interpretation, backed by sympathetic strings and guitars.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes has added bounce from a subtle Latin rhythm, a beat which also heightens A Fine Romance. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man is introduced by Grappelli stating the seldom-heard verse. Why Do I Love You? has a nice touch of unison pizzicato violin and guitars at the start and finish, with Stéphane rounding the piece off with a delicate pizzicato coda. Marc Fossett sings along wordlessly with his own guitar solos on such tracks as I Won't Dance.
This is a truly marvellous album, made even more remarkable by the fact that Stéphane was approaching his eighties when it was recorded.