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The Complete Django Reinhardt HMV Sessions (#190)Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set
“The blur that comes from their virtuosity, Reinhardt’s blistering arpeggio’s for one, can be exhilarating, like a high speed train blowing through town.” – John Ephland, Down Beat
Limited Edition: 7500 copies
6 CDs - $96.00
With this rich collection of sides by Django Reinhardt from the vaults of HMV and Swing (the French jazz label), you can instantly transport yourself to a small French café in the mid '30s, very near the beginning of his recording career, where dedicated fans discovered what made this extraordinary musician - the first real European jazz star -- a raging sensation on both sides of the Atlantic.
Considered by many to be the single most important guitarist in the history of jazz, Django was explosively egotistical, a careless and carefree gambler, but a generous charmer as well. Musically, he was gifted in a way that seldom has been seen before or since these classic recordings were made.
Most people know his story. Born into a troupe of gypsies in Belgium and raised outside Paris, this son of a traveling entertainer was working professionally at the age of 12. At 18, an event marked him, and his career, for life: a caravan fire that robbed him of the use of two of his fretting fingers. While tragic, it forced him to develop a style of playing that was his alone.
Romantic, yet technically brilliant.
Intensely rhythmic, remarkably nimble even for a musician with full capacity, Django in later years developed into a soloist who played with an emotional fervor and romanticism that is common in the folk music of his ancestry.
His ability to riff with abandon, without compromising expressiveness, was what appealed to audiences at the time, and he could count among his admirers Duke Ellington, Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins and Eddie South.
His group, co-led by violinist Stephane Grappelli, was the celebrated Quintette du Hot Club de France, named for and initially sponsored by the society of French record collectors who made Hot Music a passionate and scholarly pursuit. This ensemble, as well as Reinhardt's own playing, exhibited a keen sense of swing while blending the sound of a small Parisian café band.
Sort of hot. Kind of modern. All Django.
But this was Hot Music that later incorporated some extremely modern elements. Django, on first hearing Charlie Parker on record, is said to have dropped his head into his hands and moaned out of admiration and humility. He immediately began incorporating bop idioms and harmonies into his music. In turn, many bop musicians credit Django as an important influence.
The recordings -- 118 in all - span Django's most productive years (and Europe's most painful and chaotic), from 1936 to 1948, and feature him performing solo guitar and in duet with Grappelli as well as with the quintet.
The quintet, which included Joseph Reinhardt, Roger Chaput and later Pierre Ferret on guitar and Louis Vola on bass, became internationally known for these exact recordings now available from Mosaic. They reveal Django's power, his melodic abilities, and his skill at achieving, simultaneously, technical precision and deeply meaningful tonal nuances.
The booklet includes evocative and historically significant photographs as well as a lengthy text by guitarist-writer Mike Peters on Django's life and his music.
Read More About Django Reinhardt:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »
“With the best of this material easily deserving to be held in the same high regard reserved for the music figures like Art Tatum, Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, having it all in one place is simply wonderful.” – Stuart Kremsky, International Assoc. of Jazz Educators
- Audio Quality
- Sample Session Notes
In the age of microsizing, every Mosaic Records Box Set booklet is still 11 x 11 inches to allow our customers to appreciate all the extras we put into printing them (and for easier reading).
“The Swing Records sides from 1936-37 are noticeably cleaner and more lifelike on this set than on other reissues I have of this material (no muffling, overdone noise reduction for a change, and high-quality source materials). It's like a classic film where the original print has been found, cleaned, and presented as it should be for the first time in years.” – Customer Review
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The photographs for this set bring us closer to the man who remains one of the most remarkable figures of jazz: Django Reinhardt. Frank Driggs collection takes us back to the 1930s in photographs of Django at an airport in London, to the QHCF’s first cabaret gig in Pigalle, a concert in Paris at the L’Ecole Normale de Musique, the Casanova Club in Paris, a jam session at the inauguration of the Hot Club of France with guest Duke Ellington and at an unknown site outside Django’s caravan. Mike Peters, who also wrote the captivating notes, provided us with rare photos of an Armed Forces Radio Network program in 1945, at a USO show in Nice and backstage at the Civic Opera House in Chicago.
May 4, 1936
It took nearly eight months for the Quintet to re-enter the recording studio. In early 1936, EMI began a series of recordings to take advantage of the growing interest in jazz across Europe, England, and America. The moderate success of QHCF’s Ultraphone and Decca sides, gave the recording giant enough of a reason to warrant including the French string quintet in their lineup. Up until this time, the Quintet only existed for recordings and an occassional concert. The shortage of work prompted the five musicians to individually look for their own work, scattering them across France and the rest of Europe in the process.
The EMI sides benefit from the latest recording technology, first class engineers and the largest distribution network in the world. Within one year, they’d record (and release) 30 sides that firmly established the group as France's premier hot band and Europe’s first great jazz ensemble.
Written and sung by Stuff Smith (with his Onyx Club Boys), I'se A Muggin' was originally recorded in two parts for a doubled-sided Vocalion 78. Smith's 1936 novelty number gets the QHCF in a humorous mood and is a perfect piece to start off a fabulous recording session. Vocalist Freddy "the Hipster" Taylor covers the vocal, with support from the five Frenchmen, and is "muggin' lightly" ala Armstrong . This is the first of two sessions Taylor was to partake in with QHCF (the second took place in October of '36). Django was very familiar with Taylor's fun loving style. He had previously worked, and recorded (though unreleased) with Taylor and His Swing Men From Harlem at La Villa D'Este in the spring of 1935. When Django moved on, Oscar Aleman took over the guitar chair.
I'se A Muggin' predominately features Grappelli, and “The Hipster’s" vocalization. Django is in a playful throughout, bending his way over the descending bass line, then delivering a flurry of perfectly articulated runs. The Jazz Hot July, 1936 review of this side gives Grappelli big points for his performance applauding his “melodic development", and “extraordinarily hot intonations." Interestingly enough, the unnamed reviewer (Panaisse), doesn't even mention Django's contribution.
The second of three vocals from this session finds the QHCF paying homage to Louis Armstrong, with I Can't Give You Anything But Love. The tempo and performance owe much to Louis' 1929 Okeh recording.
Grappelli’s Chicago quote going into the second half of his solo is moving, but it is Django who shines brightest, taking the first chorus in rhapsodic form. Like his idol Armstrong, he completely understands the Fields/McHugh song, and with great finesse, re-invents this wonderful pop standard.
Oriental Shuffle and Are You In The Mood? are two charming original pieces, both credited to Reinhardt and Grappelli. Oriental Shuffle finds the co-leaders sticking very close to the melody, though Django finds a place to rhapsodize at the end of the first eight, effortlessly playing over an interesting series of chords. Are You In The Mood? offers more of an opportunity for improvisation, with Django in magnificent form for two choruses, utilizing nearly the complete range of his instrument. Though harmonically different, these two pieces have a similar overall feel and sound to them, and they're both gorgeous. Django's 1945 Swing date with his American Swing Band (ATC Band) features a big band arrangement by Lonnie Wilfong which sheds new light on this pretty song.
A note about the collaborative listing on these originals. It is Charles Delaunay who recalled Django as being the one largely responsible for creating these (and future) compositions, with Grappelli (sometimes) adding to the Reinhardt pieces. Though Django (with Stephane’s help), waxed two originals for Ultraphone, these HMV sessions present him with the opportunity to document material that he was currently creating. As we shall see (and hear), in addition to offering brilliantly creative improvisations, he was a unique and prolific composer. From now on, very few QHCF recording sessions will go by without an original song or two in the mix of American pop and jazz standards.
The two up tempo numbers from this first Gramophone session, are sublime. Reinhardt and Grappelli are fearless in their romp over these two jazz classics. Right from the start of After You've Gone, Grappelli is soloing, never even hinting at the melody. Why waste time when you’ve got something “hot” to say! (Stephane admitted years later that “youth” was to blame for his haste to improvise). Taylor returns for (another) Armstrong- inspired vocal, which sets the stage for Django. His chorus is a study in balance and pacing, as trills, and glissando’s beautifully knit phrases of long, rapid fire arpeggios.
Limehouse Blues gets a second reading by the Quintet, which first recorded it for Decca in 1935. The earlier version is light; this one is fire. Grappelli is surprisingly muted throughout the session. Stories of his owning cheap violins in those days abound. He performs brilliantly all the same. You can feel how the entire ensemble lifts off when Stephane begins to solo, and Django goes full steam into rhythm. Geoff Sisley, in his three-part profile of Django in BMG (April/May/June 1936), talks about “the great gliss." Many dismiss it as a simple running of the index finger up and down the string. Not the way Django does it. He fingers all the notes when executing it in the first position and makes the big run to the upper reaches of his guitar with his mighty index finger. On Limehouse Blues, Django uses it to great effect in his second chorus, bridging the first sixteen bars with the second sixteen, flying over the fingerboard, and landing like a great ice skater. Sonja Henie would have been proud.
These sides were issued in the summer of '36 with other selections in a series featuring French jazz players (Warlop, QHCF), expatriates (Garnet Clark, Bill Coleman) and a few imports (Goodman trio, Mezzrow).
For decades there have been second takes listed as unissued in discographies for I'se A Muggin', I Can't Give You Anything But Love and After You've Gone; they don't exist, and according to Charles Delaunay, probably never did.
Across the channel, and on the other side of the Atlantic, reviewers (and guitarists) were at loss to explain Django’s playing. The articles are often filled with erroneous assumptions such as, “he played with finger picks”, or “the records have been sped up.” Wrong, but nonetheless, they provide a glimpse of the kind of commotion Django stirred up during his early years. He faced many of the same problems associated with Art Tatum. The major obstacle was that their styles were so personal, they were elevated to the celestial position of being “beyond category”. For Django, the guitar community embraced him spiritually, but was incapable of giving him a place in their minds.
After listening to this first session, you immediately notice a change in the band. They’re more relaxed, confident, and the rhythm is tighter than what you hear on the Ultraphone, and Decca sides. For the QHCF, the maturation process has begun. For Django and Stephane, with Armstrong now ingrained and serving as a constant source of inspiration, they too are evolving, finding their own voice(s).
CUSTOMER REVIEWSClick here to write a review
“There is so much sheer life bubbling through on this collection. Django alternately plays to the heart, the intellect and, as always, the sense of fun and playfullness. What a gift this man had, and on these CD's that gift is right back 'atcha! Great stuff!!”
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Limited Edition Photographs
Selected images became the album cover shots for Blue Note's brilliant designer Reid Miles, and are instantly recognized by millions. Now, museum-quality prints in limited editions can be owned forever... But only by a few.
Each image will be made available for one month only. At the end of that month, only the images ordered will be printed and that will be the end of the Limited Edition.