Monday, April 05, 2010

Louis Vola: bass player and bandleader

Louis Vola en de geboorte van het kwintet ( Nederlands) Louis Vola and the birth of a quintet ( English) Louis Vola: bassist en orkestleider ( Nederlands) Louis Vola: bass player and bandleader ( English)

Would Monsieur Vola like to take a solo?
Georg Lankester

(translation: Hans Koert)

If you are an admirer of the music of the Hot Club de France, Louis Vola (1902-1990) will be remembered as one of the bass player of the quintet, like Emmanuel Soudieux (he passed away) and Coleridge Goode, who played after the war in London with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Louis Vola played an important part in the first years of the quintet, and not only as a bass player ........ he was also a tireless impresario!
Today more about the Quintette du Hot Club de France and Louis Vola's career in other bands during the 1930s and 1940s.

Quintette du Hot Club de France ( 1930s)

Quintette du Hot Club de France - Django Reinhardt - Ton Doux Sourire (1935) (The Sunshine of Your Smile) Ultraphone Studios Paris, April 1935 with Stéphane Grappelli (vln), Django Reinhardt (gtr solo), Roger Chaput, Joseph Reinhardt (gtrs), Louis Vola (sb).

During the next two years, 1935 and 1936, but few records were made, but in 1937, the year of the Parisian World Fair, L'Exposition Internationale "Arts et Techniques dans la Vie moderne", an extensive number of records were released. The Hot Club de France organisation invited numerous US musicians to perform in Paris with local musicians. The Quintet meets the Duke.

Early 1938 the quintet records in London for Decca. One of the tunes is entitled My Sweet, in which Django asks Louis Vola to take a solo: Would Monsieur Vola like to take a solo?

Up to 1939 Louis Vola is present at 60 recordings on which he accompanies Django in various small groups, quintets or large orchestras, like the band of violin player Michel Warlop. Besides playing with Django, he is also to be heard in numerous other records with French musicians and becomes a sought after accompanist.

Hot Lips - Quintette (sic) Of the Hot Club Of France with Louis Vola on bass. ( HMV B8690) Paris, 22nd of April 1937) ( Collection Hans Koert)

In 1940, at the start of the Second world War, he starts to play in the Ray Ventura orchestra which brings him into Switzerland and in 1941 even to South America. He leaves the Ventura orchestra and stays in Argentina up to 1948. In Buenos Aires he founded a quintet like the Hot club de France, where he recorded with Hernan Oliva, the great Argentine violin player, almost unknown in Europe ad The States. If you listen to the recordings made during this period you can hear the influences of Oscar Aleman very well - the Argentine guitar player, who visited France in the 1930s and played with entertainers like Josephine Baker.

In the next short fragment, Louis Vola, the bass player of course, is one of " Django's friends": .

Louis Vola returns to France, first to Nice and later to Paris. It is a pity that his music in not very popular anymore, due to the development of new musical styles.

Montparnasse Jump - Danny Polo and his Swing Stars ( with Danny Polo, Alix Combelle, Une Mae Carlisle, Oscar Alemán and Louis Vola.) ( Decca F. 6989) ( 30th of January 1939) ( Rainer Lotz Collection).
Louis Vola played again at the festivities around the 25th anniversary of Django's death in Samois with Svend Asmussen at the violin and Boulou Ferré on the guitar, but Louis has played his part. Louis Vola passed away the 15th of August 1990 in Paris; he is the last but one survivor of the original Quintette du Hot Club de France - the last one is Stephane Grappelli - he passed away December 1997.

Louis Vola made, since the early 1930s, numerous records with jazz musicians who played in the French jazz scene, like Michel Warlop, Philippe Brun, Danny Polo and Oscar Alemán, Ray Ventura, Arthur Briggs and Alix Combelle. Since 1934 he is also to be heard in the classical Quintet of the Hot Club of France recordings with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. It is important to know for all Hot Club fans that Louis played an important part in founding the Quintet. He recognized, like Emile Savitry, the talents of Django and promoted the Hot Club du France organisation to found a house band with only string instruments: the Quintette du Hot Club de France.
Louis Vola - a name to remember.

Georg Lankester
( translation: Hans Koert)

In the book Django, the life and Music of a Gypsy Legend, Michael Dregni quotes Django ( p. 142) as: Would Monsieur Solo like to take a Vola? That seems wrong to me. Can someone confirm that to me? ( Hans Koert)

The music as played by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelly, two names inextricably bound up with each other, is remembered as the music of the Quintet of the Hot Club de France. The other members of the quintet, like Louis Vola, are often underexposed ... until today! Georg Lankester describes the career of this bass player today. The Keep Swinging blog spotlights these forgotten names - don't miss it: Register for its newsletter.

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Blogger Jo said...

Thanks for the article, great to have some facts published about the career of Louis Vola. - Regarding the quoted saying by Django during a recording of 'My Sweet', it seems to be right according to Dregni's book. It reads at p.142: "-- during a take of Hoagy Charmichael's "My Sweet", the session erupted into laughter after Django introduced Vola halfway through the song in a slip of the foreign tongue, "Would Monsieur Solo like to take a Vola?"


10:11 AM  

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