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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DJANGO REINHARDT

Four Classic Albums Plus

AVID JAZZ AMSC 1020

 

 


CD1
1-10: 'DJANGO'
1. Oh, Lady Be Good
2. Dinah
3. Confessin'
4. I Saw Stars
5. Tiger Rag
6. The Continental
7. Blue Drag
8. Sweet Sue (Just You)
9. The Sunshine Of Your Smile
10. Swanee River
11-24: 'django'
11. Charleston
12. Chicago
13. You're Driving Me Crazy
14. In A Sentimental Mood
15. I've Found A New Baby
16. Alabamy Bound
17. Oh, Lady Be Good
18. Minor Swing
19. Viper's Dream
20. Swingin' With Django
21. Paramount Stomp
22. Bouncin' Around
23. St Louis Blues
24. Swing Guitars
25: 'The Legendary Django'
25. Daphne
26. Lover Come Back To Me (Alternative Takes from 78's)
27. I Got Rhythm (Alternative Takes from 78's)

CD2
1-13: 'The Legendary Django'
1. You Took Advantage Of Me
2. Sweet Georgia Brown
3. My Serenade
4. Naguine
5. Stephen's Blues
6. You Rascal You
7. I'll See You In My Dreams
8. Stockholm
9. Echoes Of Spain
10. Younger Generation
11. Blues
12. Vendredi 13
13. Rythme Futur
14-23: 'Django Reinhardt'
14. Daphne
15. Mabel
16. Djangology
17. Swing 41
18. Swing 42
19. Nuages
20. Sweet Sue
21. Limehouse Blues
22. Place de Brouckere
23. Black Eyes
24. Body And Soul from EP: Larry Adler with Quintette of the Hot Club of France
25. Lover Come Back To Me from EP: Larry Adler with Quintette of the Hot Club of France
26. I Got Rhythm from EP: Larry Adler with Quintette of the Hot Club of France
27. My Melancholy Baby from EP: Larry Adler with Quintette of the Hot Club of France
rec.1934-43

 

Avid cheats a bit here. It's not possible for Django Reinhardt to have recorded LPs because he died in 1953, before the LP had really taken off in Europe. So what we have is a selection of four much later reissue albums and an EP featuring Larry Adler. It doesn't really satisfy the rubric of Avid's long running and enjoyable series, but we'll let that pass.

One useful thing is that many of these titles are not the tried and tested QHCF sides. And it doesn't harm matters to be reminded, as one most forcibly is, of the sometimes tangential approach to harmony adopted by Grappelli and Reinhardt in a standard such as Dinah. One has to put up with a certain amount of negligible stuff, such as the trite singer Jerry Mengo, who occupies space better taken by one of the instrumentalists. Note too that despite the reprinted LP sleeve note's claims, Mengo doesn't sing on Confessin'.

I've known professional jazz musicians, more in tune with Eddie Lang and indeed Ukulele Ike, who turn up their noses at Reinhardt, professing to find nothing in his music that interests them. I'd never be without Lang, or Lonnie Johnson, but then I'd never be without Django either. Whether standards or self-penned, these albums buckle under the weight of his, and Grappelli's, novelties of approach. The image one forms of the Quintette of the Hot Club of France is a steadily chugging two man guitar rhythm, and a bass supporting the two stars in front. And of course this is true, but there were also recordings when other violinists were invited to share front line responsibilities, when Django and Stephane recorded as a duo, or when Grappelli recorded on piano. Then again Django recorded as part of a trio, with guitar and bass, or with trumpeter Philippe Brun when Django played guitar and Grappelli celesta. The permutations were many, and this is not to include those recordings in 1940 with Hubert Rostaing, the clarinettist who 'replaced' Grappelli when the violinist stayed on in London after the outbreak of war.

All these examples are contained in this two disc set. Whether it be the real Original Dixieland Jazz Band tempo for Tiger Rag or the brilliant lexicon of rhythmic and timbral devices that make Charleston so infectious an example of their individual and collective art, these tracks have something for everyone, even Lang-adhering naysayers. I'd just draw attention to a few more tracks. How cleverly allusive are the harmonies of I've Found A New Baby-the two men seemingly delight sometimes in avoiding melodic statements-and how combustible is the three violin line-up of Grappelli, Eddie South and Michel Warlop (the most daring, indeed craziest of the three) in the famous recording of Lady, Be Good. Warlop reappears elsewhere, and Larry Adler appears in virtuosic fashion too. We hear from a good big band, and the American Swing Band, loose limbed and highly effective, in November '45. Don't overlook trumpeter Brun, though, in the trio masterpiece Blues from 1937; not for nothing did Louis Armstrong admire him.

Avid's booklet is rather cluttered-they try to pack a lot in by reprinting original sleeve notes and line-ups can get squeezed out. Still, I'm sure even a confident though not omnivorous fan of the QHCF will find something novel here. I certainly did.

Jonathan Woolf



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