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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

Stéphane Grappelli

1. Opportunity
2. Hesitation
3. Emotion
4. Tournesol
5. Gerba
6. Errol
7. Country Club
8. Super Punk
9. Sea Club Boogie
10. Kent
11. Sun Tune
12. Blue Emotion
13. Beautiful Trip
14. Rebecca My Gal
Stéphane Grappelli (violin), Gérard Gustin (piano), Jack Sewing (bass); Armand Cavallaro (drums)
Recorded France, 1973 and 1979
BELLA MUSICA BM 31.6524 [35.36]


This is very much, in ‘football-speak’, a disc of two halves. The first six tracks are Grappelli originals and all recorded in 1973. The remainder are compositions by pianist Gérard Gustin and were set down in Nice six years later. Grappelli was clearly in relaxed, semi-classical mood when writing his six; there’s a sense of coasting, to be frank, that his fruity vibrato (much wider than one normally hears) doesn’t do much to disguise. There’s a semi-demi quotation from You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me in his tune Emotion but apart from Sewing’s dependably swinging bass on Gerba there’s little to detain the enthusiast, much less the more casual listener.

The later date comes from a time when Grappelli was enjoying renewed celebrity with his international quintet. Gustin’s tunes and arrangements are more straight ahead with bop tinges. There’s a tighter sense of balance and the session sounds more keyed up altogether. Gustin has the time to stretch out and solo on Country Club in a way he couldn’t six years earlier and there’s bluesy swing to Kent where Cavallaro kicks the front line with his best playing of the date. Grappelli responds with utter sang froid and considerable wit.

In the end though neither date is sufficiently galvanizing or imaginative and at thirty five minutes this is pretty short measure. More for completists.

Jonathan Woolf


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