Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Django With His American Friends (1935-45)

Django with his American Friends ( 1935-1945) ( English) Django's Amerikaanse vrienden ( 1935-1945) (Nederlands)

Box with unique Euro-Jazz recordings.

Recently I had the 3 cd-box (DRG 8493) with recordings made in Paris, France, between 1935 and 1945 featuring Django Reinhardt and visiting or expatriate American musicians.
The three cds include 57 tracks, many of them originally recorded for Swing, the record label associated with The Hot Club of France that aimed to support and inform about 'Le Jazz Hot' by inviting American musicians to perform and record in France, The policy of the Hot Club of France was to invite American jazz stars of the time and have them performing and recording with French musicians, this way the club hoped to support both the visitors and a growing interest in jazz among French musicians and their audience. The pedagogical aim of these projects was also to 'educate' local musicians with the language of jazz/swing by giving them the opportunity to play together with and learn from the vanguard of American jazz stars, however, while teaming Django Reinhardt with stars like Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Bill Coleman, Dicky Wells, Rex Stewart a.o. both parts of the game seem to have learned and benefitted from the process. The main part of the 57 recordings featured in the cd-set is justly considered some of the best jazz recorded in Europe during the 1930s by visiting Americans, and from a similar historic view the participation of Django helped to Spread the reputation of his extraordinary capacity as a guitarist and further gave him the opportunity to meet and perform together with his peers. The result of these recordings is more often than not extraordinarily fine swing jazz. - In the year of the Django Reinhardt Centennial it's worth not forgetting the importance of this part of Django's recorded legacy and I am happy to finally have these 57 recordings collected in a cd-set that presents the tracks in chronological order and with sufficient audio restoration maintained by DRG Records. The 3-cd set was released 1998 and is still available from online retailers and good record shops (- if you can find one!), below I'll just mention and insert audio-video examples of some of the highlights, however, all tracks in this cd-set are essential for the collector of Django's recorded legacy and excellent Euro-jazz of the 1930s.

During the 1930s tenor sax ace Coleman Hawkins stayed in Europe, touring and performing in parts of the continent with local bands as a featured star attraction and also made recordings in Holland, Scandinavia and France. In March 1935 Hawkins was a featured star with Michel Warlop's orchestra in Paris and the recordings made for the Swing label on March 2nd also feature Django as a member of the orchestra. The three tunes recorded with this combination are the first recordings featuring Django with visiting Americans, and at the same session also was recorded a small combo from the Warlop band featuring Hawkins and Django in excellent interplay in a rendition of "Stardust". Enjoy the inserted audio-video featuring Coleman Hawkins (ts), acc. by Stéphane Grappelli (p); Django Reinhardt (g); Eugène d'Hellemmes (b);
Maurice Chaillou (dm)

In April 1937 Hawkins and Django had another opportunity to record together for the Swing label, this time in an all star line-up also featuring Benny Carter, who contributed on both alto sax and trumpet and made the arrangements of the four recorded tunes. Here is an audio-video of Coleman Hawkins and His All Star Band playing "Sweet Georgia Brown", recorded on April 28, 1937 featuring Benny Carter (as, tp & arr.); André Ekyan (as); Coleman Hawkins (ts); Alix Combelle (ts & cl); Stéphane Grappelli (p); Django Reinhardt (g); Eugène d'Hellemmes (b); Tommy Benford (dm)

In September 1937 the excellent jazz violinist Eddie South recorded a selection of tunes for the Swing label accompanied by Django and Stéphane Grappelli, among the recorded tunes was a rendition of Django's "Daphne" featuring Eddie South, Stéphane Grappelli (v); Django Reinhardt (g); Roger Chaput (g); Wilson Myers (b) - enjoy it here

Trumpeter Bill Coleman had come to France with Lucky Millinder's orchestra in 1933 and stayed in Paris throughout the 1930s performing and recording with Willie Lewis' band and also had his own band and was an often wanted sideman in record sessions by other bandleaders. In November 1937 Bill Coleman and his orchestra recorded four tunes for the Swing label featuring a.o. Frank "Big Boy" Goudie (cl & ts) and Django. At the same session was made a duet recording of Coleman accompanied by Django - enjoy this great recording of "Bill Coleman Blues" from November 19, 1937

Django had recorded together with Bill Coleman a couple of months earlier in a session for Swing featuring Dicky Wells and his orchestra. On July 7, 1937 Wells recorded five sides for the Swing label featuring Bill Dillard, Shad Collins, Bill Coleman (tp); Dicky Wells (tb); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Richard "Dick" Fullbright (b); Bill Beason (dm), one of the recorded tunes was "Bugle Call Rag"

In 1939 Duke Ellington and his orchestra toured Europe and during its stay in Paris there was organized a recording session for the Swing label featuring some members of the band under the leadership of trumpeter Rex Stewart and Django on guitar. This recording session took place April 5, 1939 and four sides were recorded labeled Rex Stewart and his Feetwarmers featuring Rex Stewart (c); Barney Bigard (cl & dm); Django Reinhardt (g); Billy Taylor (b). One of the recorded tunes was "Montmartre"

During WW2 Django was prevented from playing together with American musicians, but late 1945 he had the opportunity to perform with an American army big band, the ATC (Air Transport Command Band) directed by Sergeant Jack Platt. Django recorded nineteen sides with the ATC Band and three sides with members of the band under his own name. The Swing label released four of these recordings as "Django Reinhardt and his American Swing Band"; the remaining sides were acetates, either from AFN (American Forces Network) radio programs or from their final concert at the Salle Pleyel in 1945. One of the recordings not available by this combination on the DRG cd-set is a take of "Honeysuckle Rose" from October 26, 1945 aired on the A.F.N. Radio Program

As mentioned above the DRG cd-set covers recordings made between 1935 and 1945 featuring Django and visiting American jazz musicians, a selection of some of the highlights from these sessions are documented in the inserted audio-videos to let you have an impression of the high standard of the performed music - a chapter of Euro-jazz well worth remembering and celebrating in the year of the Django Reinhardt Centennial.


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Anonymous Dave Radlauer said...

Nice work. You might enjoy what I'm doing about Frank Big Boy Goudie and his associations in Europe 1925-55.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contact me at keepswinging at live poimnt nl

6:03 AM  

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