Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
Stéphane Grappelli & Oscar Peterson: Jazz In Paris
On a summer evening in 1957 I fell in love with the jazz violin of Stéphane Grappelli. It was at a jazz concert in the Circus Hall of the Dutch resort of Scheveningen, the coastal suburb of The Hague. Earlier that evening I had played the trumpet in a student band which topped the bill for the first half of the concert. The second half of the concert was to feature Stéphane Grappelli accommpanied by Raymond Fol at the piano.
I had heard recordings of Stéphane with Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. At the time I was very involved in the British ‘trad’ scene. His romantic effusions did not impress me, or many of my fellow tradsters. However I decided to stand in the wings of the stage and have a listen.
Amazing! I was blown away by the sheer richness of his playing. Swinging with a power which would put our poor efforts to shame, he proceeded to weave his way through a beautiful selection of jazz standards. Some of them I still remember: Willow Weep for Me, a tune I had just learned to play; that old chestnut Shine, a tune which we might have included in our 30 minutes.
I became a fan for life, but with one important reservation. On recordings I enjoy Stéphane’s playing most when he is accompanied by a fine jazz pianist, as he was that evening in Scheveningen. Our own Alan Clare often did an excellent job for him. Here he is accompanied by the very best; not just Oscar Peterson and Nils Pedersen, but the great Kenny Clarke on drums, to make a perfect trio. I particularly recommend, My Heart Stood Still, where Oscar shows off his mastery of the striding style of the 1930s jazz pianists.
[Stéphane and Oscar are on “Jazz in Paris – The Stéphane Grappelli Quartet Vol 2”. Gitanes CD 013082 ]