The Best of Django Reinhardt [Capitol/Blue Note]

The Best of Django Reinhardt [Capitol/Blue Note]

by Django ReinhardtDjango Reinhardt


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Tread cautiously when the title of an album starts off with the phrase "the best of." It's not that the music on the album will be lacking, but that the introductory phrase is so subjective, it should make a prospective of the album, at the minimum, a bit wary; it would be somewhat more honest to title such compilations "Some of the Best of..." In any event, this Blue Note album, compiled with the usual knowing liner notes of the eminent Dan Morgenstern, collects Reinhardt sessions from May 1936, when the clouds of World War II were starting to engulf Europe, to March 1948. A survey of Reinhardt's performances over these tumultuous 12 years is an opportunity to see how the great guitar player's style changed and evolved. And evolve it did, but never did it lose its foundation, which was swing. It is at least arguable that no guitar player, including the great Charlie Christian, was as adept in making that instrument move as did Reinhardt. Morgenstern also wisely included many of Reinhardt's compositions on this compilation, reminding us that he was more than a fair-to-middlin' tunesmith. The first cut, with the original Quintet of the Hot Club of France, one of several he shares with his longtime musical comrade-in-arms, Stephane Grappelli, is as infectious a rendition of this warhorse as has been captured on disc, the 1941 Benny Goodman Sextet and 1945 Benny Morton All Stars versions notwithstanding. Moving ahead to 1939, "I'll See You in My Dreams," is somewhat more pensive, but nonetheless Reinhardt still swings. Reinhardt also had the ability to expresses an immense sense of romanticism in his playing. Nowhere is his romantic streak broader as when he and clarinetist Hubert Rostaign put together a lovely version of Reinhardt's "Nuages." And he was a whiz at swinging the blues, as seen on "St. Louis Blues." On this tune, working above the rhythm guitar of Louis Gaste on W.C. Handy's blues psalm, he demonstrates the ability to put across a melody with an infectious toe-tapping rhythm. By the time the late 1940s arrive, Reinhardt is still swinging, as on "Django's Tiger" and "Lady Be Good." There are a couple of sessions of Reinhardt with an orchestra, and while these come off reasonably well, the guitarist was much more at ease in small groups, where he was less constrained. Not only was this the case with the quintet, but with such American jazzers as Rex Stewart and His Feetwarmers on "Montmartre" as well. On the last cut, "To Each His Own Symphony," he is reunited with Stephane Grappelli (this time on piano) in a pensive recapitulation of their off-and-on association. Whether this CD qualifies as The Best of Django Reinhardt is perhaps arguable. What isn't at issue is that the album is an excellent compilation of 18 cuts and 53 minutes of music by one of the most significant European apostles of and influences on American jazz.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/19/1996
Label: Blue Note Records
UPC: 0724383713820
catalogNumber: 37138

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Django Reinhardt   Primary Artist,Guitar
Stéphane Grappelli   Violin
Rex Stewart   Cornet
Alix Combelle   Clarinet
Marcel Bianchi   Rhythm Guitar
Barney Bigard   Clarinet
Max Blanc   Alto Saxophone
Alex Caturegli   Trumpet
Bill Decker   Trombone
Pierre Ferret   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Pierre Fouad   Drums
Coleridge Goode   Bass
Kirkpatrick   Trombone
Gaston Leonard   Drums
Jack Llewelyn   Guitar
Alex Renard   Trumpet
Hubert Rostaing   Clarinet
Lucien Simoens   Rhythm Guitar
Emmanuel Soudieux   Bass
Jerry Stephan   Trumpet
Jean Storne   Bass
Eugene Vees   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Louis Vola   Bass,Rhythm Guitar
B Zickefoose   Tenor Saxophone
Eugene d'Hellemmes   Bass
Fred Ermelin   Bass
Louis Gasté   Rhythm Guitar
Maurice Gladieu   Trombone
Charles Hary   Tenor Saxophone
Robert Mavounzy   Alto Saxophone
Robert Merchez   Alto Saxophone
Billy Taylor   Bass
Joseph Reinhardt   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Maurice Moufflard   Trumpet
Lonnie Wilflong   Trumpet
Larry Mann   Piano
Andre Louis   Tenor Saxophone
Robert Decker   Bass
Don Gardner   Trombone
Herb Bass   Trumpet
Allan Hodgkiss   Guitar

Technical Credits

Jack Platt   Director

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