QHCF, Django - and Robert!
The Quintette of the Hot Club of France (QHCF) is generally considered to be the greatest of all European string Swing ensembles. The group started out as an informal jam session unit in Paris in 1933. Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Roger Chaput and Louis Vola were playing in a hotel dance band at the time. Between sets they would play jazz together in a backroom at the hotel. One day Charles Delaunay of the Hot Club witnessed one of these sessions and arranged that the group (- enlarged with Django's brother, Joseph, as secound rhythm guitarist), record it's first records for the Ultraphone label in December of 1934. The group went on to become very popular in Europe both on records and as a live act. The group disbanded in 1939 as war broke out in Europe.The band was playing in London when England declared war on Germany. Stéphane Grappelli decided to stay in London while Django Reinhardt returned to Paris.
You may listen to samples of recordings by the QHCF following the link, click here
I found a filmed documentation of the QHCF, a seldom opportunity to view Django playing, enjoy this great film noire
As said above the QHCF was popular in Europe before WW II, their records sold well and helped spreading the reputation, and the group supported its own succes by going on concert tours through most European countries. In February 1939 the Quintet visited Oslo, Norway, where they held two concerts. Back stage after the ball a young Norwegian guitarist, Robert Normann, was passed Django's guitar to play some improvised solos in honour of the visiting master. It has been told that Django should have smiled and said: "Why do you want me? You have got Robert Normann".
Robert Uno Normann (1916-1998) was born in Sarpsborg, a small spot in the Nothern part of Norway near the border of Russia. He started at an early age as a travelling musician, finally made it to Oslo, played with local bands and attracted attention as a solo guitarist in Freddy Valier String Swing 1938-1939. He soon gained a reputation as a musician of international standard, played here and there with bands of his own and with various local and visiting swing musicians. He was a popular soloist at swing concerts during the first years of the German occupation, a soloist in the group 'String Swing' 1940-1941 (several brilliant recordings), with Rowland Greenberg 1941, Frank Ottersen 1942 (also recordings) and the studio band 'Syv Muntre' (recordings 1942 and 1943) in addition to various radio and restaurant bookings outside Oslo.
After the 1945 Robert Normann worked mostly as a soloist or in trio formats, apart from playing in cabarets and revue orchestras. He was less active as a jazz musician, although he still won all the 1950s polls as the best guitarist in Norway. He still was an outstanding instrumentalist, was frequently used by the NRK (The National Broadcasting System), was booked by the Norwegian Touring Theatre 1968-1982, and has been presented through 5 CD releases on Hot Club Records 1988-1996.
You may learn more about Robert Normann at the official website devoted to his legacy, managed by members of his family with the aim of researching this remarkably musician. Click here to visit the Robert Normann Website.
Last year a DVD featuring TV recordings of Robert Normann was released, learn more about this item at the mentioned website and enjoy the promotion shots inserted below