Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
My recent recommendations keep bringing back memories of the critic Alun Morgan. When I acquired this CD, quite recently in a sale, my memory took me back to an evening in 1978. Alun had invited me to a monthly meeting of jazz collectors who were interested in learning more about Bebop in the 1940s. They met at a quiet pub in Chelsea. The guest that evening was the trumpeter Jon Eardley, who recorded with Gerry Mulligan in the 1950s. He had some fascinating stories to tell. During a break in the conversation someone, probably the producer of this CD, Alan Bates, asked for our help. He was about to record Stephane Grappelli with the rhythm section of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, which was then at Ronnie Scott’s. But he wanted to record some tunes that Stephane, with his enormous repertoire, had not recorded before. Suggestions please!
But it is not just pleasant memories which lead me to recommend this CD. The Rhythm men in question, – the great Mel Lewis on drums, Jiri [George] Mraz on bass, and the somewhat forgotten Roland Hanna on piano, – formed an exceptional unit. It is fascinating to hear them away from the Orchestra and using their great power and imagination to bring a special performance from Stephane. That is obviously what the record producer had in mind. What he did not anticipate was that admirers of this rhythm section might value the session for the chance to hear them in a new setting. From the opening title, “Love for Sale”, it is obvious that Stephane is going to be challenged. He rises to the opportunity, but the special interest of the session is listening to the rhythm section.
[Stephane Grappelli, “Parisian Thoroughfare” is on Black Lion CD BLCD 760132 ]