Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stéphane Grappelli - Connie Evingson

Stéphane Grappelli Improvisations (Essential Jazz Classics EJC55493)
This CD comes from a time when the violinist was between his two key periods; the first was, of course, when he was alongside Django Reihardt in the Quintette Du Hot Club De France, the second came from the 1970s onwards when he became a notable figure on the world stage. The mid-1950s sets that are heard on this CD are particularly rewarding, in part because here Grappelli is no longer a distant second to Reinhardt but is an increasingly confident leader. Perhaps deliberately, he largely avoids comparisons by working without a guitar on many tracks. In one band, he is with nominal leader pianist Jack Dieval, bassist Benoít Quersin and drummer Jean-Louis Viale; in another he is with pianist Maurice Vander, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Baptiste ‘Mac Kac’ Reilles, He does, though, return to his roots for a set with guitarist Henri Crolla, bassist Emmanuel Soudieux and Reilles on which he performs a couple of Reinhardt pieces, Manoir De Mes Reves and Djangology  Throughout, Grappelli displays invention and swing, is always thoroughly melodic and consistently demonstrates how jazz can be simultaneously light-hearted and emotionally fulfilling.

The lasting impact of the QHCDF can be seen from the number of bands that have followed their example through the years. For example, there are ... 

New Quintette Du Hot Club De France (Frémeaux FA542)
This group was led by Django’s son, Babik Reinhardt, who is joined by fellow guitarists Romane and Philippe ‘Doudou’ Cuillerier, violinist Florin Niculescu and bassist Gilles Naturel. This 1998 recording demonstrates the respect these musicians had for the originals. Fortunately, Babik was clearly aware that his father was inimitable and he and his colleagues seek not to copy but to breathe the master’s spirit.

The same can be said of Hot Club de Norvege on ...

Swing de Paris (Hot Club HCRCD 34)  *  Django Music (Hot Club HCRCD 219)
This band was formed in 1979 by guitarists Jon Larsen and Per Frydenlund and bassist Svein Aarbostad who soon added violinist Ivar Brodahl. The band had made a number of well-received albums and appeared at prestigious engagements, including 1984’s Paris concert honouring the 50th anniversary of Reinhardt and Grappelli’s original Hot Club de France. The first of these CDs was recorded in 1985-6. Midway through the 1980s Brodahl retired and was replaced by Finn Hauge and the group continued to play through to the present; the second CD was recorded in 2007. The band has continued to play the music of the QHCDF alongside which they agreeably play music, traditional and contemporary, that echoes other regions of Europe.

The USA is not left out and acknowledgement to Reinhardt and Grappelli can be heard on ...

Connie Evingson Gypsy In My Soul (Minnehaha MM 2006)
Recorded in 2004, this CD finds Connie Evingson in musical territory inspired by Reinhardt as she teams up with three different Django-style bands: the Clearwater Hot Club, the Parisota Hot Club and Pearl Django. The music is vibrant and colourful and singer and instrumentalists revel in the free, open swing that admirably reflects the gypsy legend. Mostly the songs are standards, along with a couple of Reinhardt's own compositions, Nuages and Anouman, the latter having a new lyric by Evingson herself.

This very accomplished jazz singer can also be heard on ...

Little Did I Dream (Minnehaha MM 2008)
Recorded in 2004, this CD album brings together Connie Evingson and pianist-composer-singer Dave Frishberg and the resulting mixture is magical. Although Dave sings only once here, his presence is everywhere. He composed the music for all 14 songs and wrote lyrics for 8 of them. He also plays piano throughout, alongside bassist Gordy Johnson, drummer Phil Hey and saxophonists Dave Karr and Mark Henderson. A lively and immensely entertaining singer, Evingson sings and swings a wide range of music, all performed with a vibrant sense of enjoyment.

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