Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G = Grappelli, Stéphane - French Faves, A to Z Challenge 2015

He rests now in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the best French jazz violinist that these ears have heard, Stéphane Grappelli. 



Jazz Greats - Reinhardt and Grappelli, WC and YouTube Images



G = Grappelli, Stéphane

Born January 26, 1908 and deceased as of December 1, 1997, Stéphane Grappelli founded the Quintette du Hot Club of France with Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934. Grappelli had met Django in 1931, when he was looking for a violinist interested in jazz. They played together for a time until interrupted by the war. 

In 1949, Reinhardt and Grappelli (a sample) reunited and made a series of recordings. Half of the 50 tracks made at that time were later compiled for the album, Djangology. Grappelli continued playing concerts around the world well into his 80's. He is an inductee of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Grappelli played on hundreds of recordings with many famous musicians, including Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Yehudi Menuhin, Paul Simon, and Bucky Pizzarelli. 

We saw him perform in a small venue, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, when he was in his 60's. He was stunning in his virtuosity and the energy his music conveyed. There are other exceptional jazz violinists, but Grappelli just happens to be my favorite.


Interesting Note: according to Wikipedia, Grappelli's father was a writer/scholar/contributor to many journals and he wrote an article about the famous American dancer, Isadora Duncan. For a short time, she watched over the young Stéphane at her dance school, until war forced her to leave France. Grappelli's funereal plaque is located in the same area as Isadora Duncan's in Pere Lachaise crematorium. I saw them both when visiting the famous cemetery.

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Are you familiar with Stéphane Grappelli and his music? Or have you heard of Django, the jazz guitarist? (no, not Django Unchained. . .)


Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, and if you are part of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be sure to check your blog, and reciprocate. If you're not in the challenge, thanks for stopping by to visit! I try to reply to all comments.

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The A to Z Blog Challenge is brainchild of Lee, at Tossing It Out.  Please visit the A to Z blog site to find out more information and the participant list.  There are also Twitter and Facebook presences if you want to check those!



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Stéphane Grappelli, Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St%C3%A9phane_Grappelli 

Youtube sample - Grappelli and Django Reinhardt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CDoJFmdFgA  

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20 comments:

  1. I never heard of him, but I love violin music. :)

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    1. So do I, Chrys, it's my favorite instrument to listen to after the saxophone. Then the guitar. . .and the piano, etc.

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  2. I first heard of Django in the movie, "Swing Kids," about Nazi Germany and how jazz was forbidden but the teen-agers of the time listened anyway they could and collected his records. If they were caught, it was the concentration camp for them.

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    1. War doesn't care about culture of any kind. Any excuse would do. But music feeds our soul, hence they took the risk. Never underestimate the depths that mankind can sink to.

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  3. Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt's recordings were awesome -- sad that the lovers of his music were sent to concentration camps for it. Mankind is so seldom kind then and now. :-(

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    1. So right, Roland, see my comment to loverofwords, war brings out the worst in men and in society. You should see the war memorials in Pere Lachaise for WWII, they show torment and suffering very well. (not the usual soldiers in a war memorial)

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  4. I wonder if there's anyone who hasn't performed with Paul Simon at one time or another.

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    1. Probably not, Alex. Dylan even brought in a violinist in some of his recordings. It adds to the depth of the music.

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  5. Never heard of him....but I'm not at all a fan of jazz, unless it's like 1940s jazz/swing.

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    1. That's what Grappelli and Django play, JoJo, it's what they played at the Hot Club of France (swing and gypsy jazz).

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  6. Hi DG - I love Grappelli .. and even though I'm a dummy re music (I enjoy it, but don't remember who or what) ... Grappelli was amazing and now you've reminded me I must get some of his works.

    Funny - but I haven't heard of Django .. yet it's the 2nd time today that that name has popped up.

    Interesting too about Grappelli's father writing about Isadora Duncan .. and to know she watched over him as a kid ...

    Fascinating .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Django was a true gypsy who hired Grappelli as he wanted a violinist who could play jazz. Grappelli could play anything. . .
      There are bands now that are copying Django's style of playing (one comes from Washington state).

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  7. It would have been something to hang out in a club where he played. Untethered Realms / MPax

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    1. A lot of fun, I'd think. Gypsy jazz makes you want to dance. There is a group called Van Django from Washington who come to Vancouver to play at some of the Jazz locations here. They may play Oregon, too.

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  8. I had the great fortune to hear Stephane play in Toronto's Massey Hall back in about 1995. They had to practically carry him onto the stage, he was so weak by that point, but the minute he started playing, it was The Hot Club of France all over again. I have a pretty extensive collection of Django Reinhardt, a lot of which includes Stephane.

    Have you ever seen this? It was the first time I had a chance to see the Quintette play. Django was an utterly incredible musician and guitarist, especially considering he had use of only two fingers and a thumb on his left hand. I had no idea how he did it until I saw this...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6bZskQlY4w

    John Holton
    Blogging from A to Z 2015 Cohost
    The Sound of One Hand Typing

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    1. Thanks, John, I hadn't seen that youtube yet, and enjoyed listening to it. Grappelli and Django enhanced each other. I love the sound of the violin in this one. You made my evening so much nicer by including that link! Merci!

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  9. I fell behind, so today I'm playing catch-up and am I glad I came by.

    I'm very familiar with Django and his gypsy jazz guitar and I love it. Did not know the name Grappelli, but as I'm well acquainted with the piece you featured here, I guess I've been also enjoying his music for years.

    Thanks for filling me in on 'the rest of the story'.

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    1. I'm glad I helped you learn about Grappelli. Django and Stephane were great collaborators. But then you do have a good background in music or I wouldn't like your BOTB choices, and I do.

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  10. Clueless about music, eastern or western, folk, jazz, classical, everything :) but I do like instrumental much better than vocal, which is odd, come to think of it.

    Enjoyed the clip, great music to read by!

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    1. The duo of Grappelli and Django, even without the Hot Quintet, is good music to write by too! I can write to instrumental, not vocal. Gypsy jazz, a la Django is good anytime.

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