Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stephane Grappelli Satin Doll 1975

A month or so ago I'm visiting my brother and it's almost dinner time, and I randomly reach into his record collection and pull out this record. I'd never seen it, and my brother barely remembered it being in his collection.

Dinner was fabulous, and we ended up listening to all of this captivating record. It was a great time. After a delightful visit with my brother and sister-in-law, I took the two-LP set home to spend some time with it.

It is an unusual Grapelli record for three reasons. It eschews the usual references to Grappelli and Django Reinhardt's Hot Club of France recordings, and is fully updated to the times (the seventies) within the context of a classic jazz quintet. Also unusual for Grappelli is a record made up entirely of the great American songbook of classics. And the addition of hot jazz organ to the ensemble on at least half the record presents an interesting juxtaposition to Grappelli's sizzling violin.

The band is impeccable. Kenny Clarke drums, Guy Pederson bass, Jimmy Goutley guitar, Marc Hemmeler piano, Eddy Louiss organ. Produced with skill in France by Arnauld Froberville. I don't recognize the names either, except for Clarke, but they laid it down on this one. Grappelli is so relaxed, and yet on fire consistently, it is a marvel. To hear him take on the classic jazz songbook is a treat, and everything gets a joyous treatment. They may have been hard at work, but they sound like they are having a grand time. Everyone shines on their solos as Grappelli generously shares the spotlight. And it swings.

It was a lucky find when I stumbled across it, and I'm the better for it. The record is available in CD and used LP formats for reasonable prices. My brother's almost forty-year-old LP was pristine after I cleaned a few fingerprints off it, and sounds incredible. Grappelli, of course, is widely regarded as the greatest jazz violinist ever, and this one won't change anyone's mind.

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