REINHARDT, Django: Django Reinhardt

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Vol. 2: 1938-1939

Classic recordings by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France

Volatile and unpredictable, Django Reinhardt was the first European musician to make a real impact on American jazz. A poet of the guitar, he was essentially a soloist and a star soloist at that but in the context of the Hot Club de France the wild extravagance of his personality and gypsy exuberance of his playing were complemented and controlled by the overall refinement of Grappelli: the group’s polished yet buoyant, uniquely infectious rhythm earned them a special place in the Pantheon of jazz history.

Django was born Jean-Baptiste Reinhardt at Liberchies, near Charleroi, in Belgium on January 23, 1910. The son of an itinerant violinist-entertainer father and a gypsy dancer mother who were both active members of a Romany travelling troupe, his childhood was essentially an unstable and nomadic existence spent in caravans. Musically speaking, as in other ways, Django was left largely to his own devices. A self-taught, prodigious talent who by his teens was already a fully-fledged multi-instrumentalist (violin, banjo and guitar), he quickly absorbed all the latest trends. Popular in Parisian cafés and cabarets, his style of playing became renowned for its synthesising of imported American jazz with traditional gypsy rhythms. Following a period of convalescence from a caravan fire in 1928 (owing to an injury sustained to his left hand he had to develop a special technique to make up for the paralysis of two fingers), he worked for several years as an accompanist to various prominent Parisian cabaret singers, most notably Jean Sablon. During 1933, he first gigged with Grappelli in André Ekyan’s band at the avant garde Croix du Sud and the following year the two were the founding star-turns of the group which became known as the Quintette du Hot Club de France.

Stephane Grappelli was born in Paris on January 26, 1908. The son of an immigrant Italian dancer and would-be business entrepreneur, his artistic aspirations inclined first towards dancing (he trained as a child at the school of Isadora Duncan) but, stirred by classical music, he took a serious interest in the violin from the age of twelve. He underwent formal training at the Paris Conservatoire but by the late 1920s, like his future colleague Django, had fallen under the spell of such American jazz giants as Armstrong and Beiderbecke, and was particularly influenced by the violinist Venuti.

By the mid-1920s he was already playing both piano and violin in silent cinemas, by 1927 was jazzing at Parisian society functions and in 1928, while still a pianist with Grégor et ses Grégoriens, first made the switch to jazz violin. Following various tours of southern France and South America, by 1931 Stephane was regularly heard at the Croix du Sud. In October 1932, he rejoined Grégor at the Olympia and went with this ensemble on tour to Zurich, Lugano, Milan, Rome and St. Jean-du-Luz prior to the group’s final disbanding, in 1933. The following year, with Django, Django’s brother Joseph and Roger Chaput on guitars and Louis Vola on string bass, he formed the original Quintette du Hot Club de France which made its first recordings in December 1934 and swiftly won renown throughout Europe and the United States.

Based in Paris the group, which underwent occasional changes in personnel, recorded a varied repertoire, comprising such Grappelli-Reinhardt compositions as Appel indirect, Billets doux and Swing 39, plus a melange of arrangements reviving popular American song-hits of earlier vintage (Japanese Sandman, by Richard A. Whiting, dates from 1920; I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight, by Walter Donaldson, from 1925; and Them There Eyes by Maceo Pinkard and Three Little Words by Harry Ruby, from 1930).

During 1938 and 1939 – prior to Grappelli’s residency in London following the outbreak of World War 2 and the start of his solo career with George Shearing and others – the Quintette made various guest appearances in the British capital. There, in between concert appearances, the ensemble assigned to shellac a similar cross-section including (among the Grappelli-Reinhardt numbers) Stompin’ At Decca, Souvenirs, Nocturne and Black And White, plus such by now more familiar eclectic repertoire as Sweet Georgia Brown (Maceo Pinkard, 1925), Honeysuckle Rose (Fats Waller and Andy Razaf, 1929) and Cole Porter’s Night And Day (1932) and Why Shouldn’t I? (1935). Grappelli may also be savoured in duet with Django in his dual capacity as keyboard in It Had To Be You (Isham Jones, 1924), If I Had You (Ted Shapiro, Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, 1928) and the then brand new J’attendrai (a Dino Olivieri cabaret theme which enjoyed several revivals in 1945).

Peter Dempsey, 2001

Peter Dempsey

A tenor singer of wide range and performing experience, Peter Dempsey specialises in Victorian and Edwardian genre ballads and art-song, and has recorded various CDs, including Love’s Garden Of Roses for Moidart. Quite apart from his personal enthusiasm for music in the broadest sense, through his assiduous collecting and study of 78s over many years, Peter has acquired not only a wide knowledge of recorded musical performance but also a heartfelt awareness of the need to conserve so many \great masters" who – were it not for CD – might now be lost for future generations. A recognised authority on old recordings, Peter now regularly researches and produces CD albums from 78s.

1. APPEL INDIRECT (Reinhardt–Grappelli)

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-6875; mx 4213hpp) Recorded 14th June, 1938, Paris 2:56

2. BILLETS DOUX (Reinhardt–Grappelli)

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-7568; mx 42091/2hpp) Recorded 14th June, 1938, Paris 2:50

3. JAPANESE SANDMAN (Whiting–Egan)

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-7133; mx 4970hpp) Recorded 21st March, 1939, Paris 2:36


The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-6875; mx 4212hpp) Recorded 14th June, 1938, Paris 2:48

5. STOMPIN’ AT DECCA (Reinhardt–Grappelli)

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-6616; mx DTB 3530-1) Recorded 31st January, 1938, London 2:32

6. SOUVENIRS (Reinhardt–Grappelli)

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-6639; mx DTB 3527-1) Recorded 31st January, 1938, London 2:45

7. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN (Pinkard–Casey–Bernie)

The Quintet of the Hot Club of France

(Decca F-6675; mx DTB 3524-1) Recorded 31st January, 1938, London 3:06


Django Reinhardt, guitar; Stephane Grappelli, piano

(Decca F-6721; mx DTB 3531-1) Recorded 1st February, 1938, London 2:31

9. IF I HAD YOU (Shapiro–Campbell–Connelly)

Django Reinhardt, guitar; Stephane Grappelli, piano

(Decca F-6721; mx DTB 3532-1) Recorded 1st February, 1938, London 2:47

10. IT HAD TO BE YOU (Jones–Kahn)

Django Reinhardt, guitar; Stephane Grappelli, violin & piano (Decca F-7009; mx DTB 3533-1) Recorded 1st February, 1938, London 2:52

Disc: 1
Them There Eyes
1 Appel Indirect
2 Billet Doux
3 Japanese Sandman
4 Three Little Words
5 Stompin' at Decca
6 Souvenirs
7 Sweet Georgia Brown
8 Tornerai (J'attendrai)
9 If I Had You
10 It Had To Be You
11 Nocturne
12 Black and White
13 Night and Day
14 Honeysuckle Rose
15 Swing 39
16 I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight
17 Why Shouldn't I?
18 Them There Eyes
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