Sandy Brown Jazz

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On A Night Like This, The Story Is Told ...

Stéphane and Django / Django and Stéphane

 

Reinhardt and Grappeli

 

It is interesting in these extracts from Ralph Gleason's book Jam Session, he uses the spelling 'Grappelly' rather than 'Grappelli' - over time both spellings have been used.

'Few in this country who avidly followed their Victor and Decca releases realized what a volatile little package this combination was. In the two stars, Grappelly and Reinhardt, there was enough explosive temperament to supply the Metropolitan Opera and a ballet company for a complete season, including matinées. Grappelly, elegant though penny-piching and somewhat superficial, was Django's opposite in nature, although they were perfect complements musically..... Some of the trouble arose because their records were variously issued for contractual reasons, as Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France or Stephane Grapelly and his Hot Four.

 

Listen to the Quintette playing The Charleston in 1937.

 

 

 

The situation came to a head during the Quintet's first broadcast to the United States in 1937. On their bandstand in the Big Apple cabaret on Rue Pigalle (known as Pig Alley since the 1944 American invasion), the musicians grew tense as the time approached ...the American announcer went confidently into his introduction ....

"From Paris we now bring you the music of Stephane Grappelli and his Hot Four."

Django turned white with rage, jumped to his feet and began to stalk out of the studio. Only the humblest of apologies and a promise to correct the error before the end of the programme induced him to return ...

 

The band playing J'Attendrai Swing in 1939.

 

 

 

The group was playing in England when the war broke out in 1939. Stephane chose to remain in England .... all the others returned to France... (in 1943), tiring of Nazi occupied France, Django attempted to escape to Switzerland. A German patrol happened upon the café where he was to rendezvous with the guide. A search of his person revealed a letter from a Swiss impresario and a membership card from the British equivalent of ASCAP - the Performing Rights Society. Arrested immediately for espionage, he was taken for interrogation before a German major. The officer took one look, as the story has it, and said, "Reinhardt, old chap! What are you doing here?" It seems the major was an old German jazz fan who collected the Quintette's records before the war.....

In the latter part of 1945, he (Django) came to London for a reunion with Grappelly. Call it sentiment , call it patriotism - at any rate, when the two first sat down to improvise a bit, there was something of a psychic cue from somewhere. The first selection played was the Marseillaise - once through in a slow and noble march and then swung joyously. It was so superb that it was included in the first recording session at His Master's Voice where the Quintet needled wax for the first time since the war ....'

From Jam Session by Ralph J Gleason.

 

Click here to listen to Echoes of France (La Marseillaise) [Unfortunately I have been unable to embed this track]

 

 

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