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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke



Original Recordings 1938 - 1942
with Django Reinhardt, Arthur Young and Hatchett's Swingtette


1. It Had To Be You
2. Nocturne
3. Alexander's Ragtime Band
4. You Made Me Love You
5. After You've Gone
6. Oh! Johnny, Oh! Johnny, Oh!
7. Stephane's Tune
8. Bluebirds In The Moonlight
9. It's A Hap-Hap-Happy Day
10. Blue Ribbon Rag
11. Coal Black Mammy
12. Ma ( He's Makin' Eyes At Me )
13. The Sheik Of Araby
14. In The Mood
15. Oh! By Jingo
16. Sweet Sue - Just You
17. Noel Brings The Swing
18. Margie
19. You're The Cream In My Coffee
20. Liza

This release is an interesting mixture of "hot" jazz as played by Stephane Grappelli's own small groups and society music as played by Hatchett's Swingtette. All of the tracks featured here were recorded in London during the years 1938 - 1942. Grappelli lived in England during the War years and had in fact taken up residence at some time in 1938 following a tour by The Quintette de Hot Club de Paris. According to the sleeve note, although Stephane was in poor health and spoke little English he continued to work in London throughout the Blitz.

The Swingtette was the resident band at the highly popular Hatchett's Restaurant in Piccadilly, which was second only The Cafe de Paris as a venue for dining and dancing. The Swingtette selections are pleasant enough but lack the drive and swing of the ones featuring smaller groups. This is polite society music and comes complete with novelty arrangements and, at times, an almost cloying sweetness in the style of phrasing. Grappelli manages to overcome this background and plays throughout with Gallic charm and enthusiasm. The other members of the orchestra provide adequate solos when required and Beryl Davis is a pleasant vocalist in a manner characteristic of this era. The Novachord, as played here by Arthur Young, is obviously a forbear of today's electronic keyboards and is quite entertaining in small doses!

There are two tracks of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt in a duo format and these are probably the most satisfying selections for the jazz purist.Grappelli plays with his customary verve and legato approach on the violin and Django provides excellent backing and solos in a more percussive and arpeggiated manner on guitar. On "It Had To Be You" Grappelli doubles on piano ( which was his original instrument and one he played to great effect throughout his career - I remember a stunning version of "Tea For Two "at a festival at Chichester with great fondness.)

The small group sessions are, to my ears, reminiscent of Benny Goodman's efforts from this period - if you substitute the clarinet for the violin the overall effect is much the same. Of particular interest is the emergence of the young George Shearing on piano on some of these sides.

This disc is perhaps only of marginal interest to the jazz enthusiast - there must be many better compilations of Grappelli - particularly the re-releases of the Hot Club sessions. However, for anyone with a liking for nostalgia, particularly from the War Years, this represents quite a fascinating document of what was happening in terms of functional music at this place in time.

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry.




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