Stéphane Grappelli

Stephane Grappelli is a legendary jazz violinist (ranking alongside Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith and Stuff Smith as one the three greats of pre-bop). His perseverance and enthusiastic playing helped establish the violin’s status as a jazz instrument. Although he was initially self-taught, he continued his studies at the Paris Conservatoire between 1924 and 1928. Grappelli was a member of several dance and movie theatre bands before meeting Django Reinhardt, the guitarist. Even though their lives were quite different (Grappelli was more sophisticated than Django, a gypsy), they found musical common ground right away. They formed the Quintet of Hot Club of France, which consisted of a violin, three acoustic guitarists and a bass. It produced an incredible series of recordings and performances between 1933 and 39. World War II broke out during a London concert in 1939. Reinhardt made a hasty decision to go to France, but Grappelli stayed on in England, effectively ending his group. Soon, the violinist joined forces with George Shearing, a young pianist, to form a new group that lasted through the war. Grappelli and Reinhardt had their first reunion in 1946. However, they didn’t work together again regularly despite numerous new recordings. Grappelli was a performer throughout Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. He also recorded with Joe Venuti and Duke Ellington (Violin Summit), but he was not well-known in America until he started touring the globe in the early 1970s. Grappelli, a frequent traveler and a consistent poll-winner since then, has maintained his open-minded swing style and remained open-minded. He has recorded with Earl Hines (Bill Coleman), Larry Coryell (Bill Coleman), Jean Luc Ponty, McCoy Tyner, and David Grisman). Grappelli, who was becoming increasingly frail, remained active right up to the end and was still at the top even at the age of 89. All of his early recordings can be found on Classics CDs, and he recorded extensively in the last three decades. Allmusic

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