Stephane Grappelli, Live


By PopMatters Staff

Perhaps the greatest jazz violinist ever, Stephane Grappelli got his start in 1920s Paris, playing in movie theaters and in dance bands. With Django Reinhardt, he formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and recorded some of the best swing music ever from 1933-1939. Grappelli and Reinhardt’s swing differed from the dominant horn-driven sound of the Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington bands, in that it was of a subtler, string-based (violin, 3 guitars, and a bass) variety.

Later in his career, the tempo slowed and the swing became gentler, but his playing always boasted the amazing lyrical tone that would influence scores of violinists and musicians in many genres. Going strong into his 80s, Live captures Grappelli still at the height of his powers in a 1994 performance that includes many of his career favorites, such as the classic Reinhardt songs “Daphne” and “Nuages,” as well as a veritable “greatest hits” of 20th century songwriting. Great standards like “Night and Day,” “Blue Moon,” Honeysuckle Rose,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and “Lady Be Good” are taken to new heights by Grappelli’s inspired playing.

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