Paris and London: 1937-1948, Vol. 2 Box set, Best of
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Paris and London 1937-1948 is every bit as essential and fascinating for lovers of jazz guitar as JSP's first inexpensive Django box, Django Reinhardt Vol.1. Between 1937 and 1948, the world's best-known gypsy guitarist was leading some of the hottest jazz groups in Europe, with some of the most innovative arrangements imaginable. The story behind these sessions is almost as memorable as the material--somehow Reinhardt, despite being a gypsy, prospered through Nazi-occupied France while his peers either fled or perished. Due to the war, the classic line-up of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France evolved and eventually splintered into two groups--one with Stephane Grappelli on violin, another replacing him with the clarinettist Hubert Rostaing. But regardless of Reinhardt's accompaniment, the music-making heard here is nothing short of astounding. Whether swinging through standards such as "All of Me", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" or performing some of his classic originals (such as "Nuages" and "Swing 42"), whether alone ("Improvisations" and "Tea for Two") or backed by more than a dozen friends ("Festival Swing"), this is some of Reinhardt's best music. JSP's remastering and transfers on these 60-year-old 78s is the finest yet available. Essential for swing fans, guitarists and anyone wanting to know more about the history of jazz. --Jason Verlinde
Top Customer Reviews
My first real introduction to Django was vol. 1 from JSP, which at 5 CDs was an overwhelming but wonderful experience. Vol 2 is slightly shorter ("only" 4 CDs) but covers more ground, both in time span and variety of music. The war-time recordings that take up the middle portion of the set use all sorts of additional instruments (harmonica!), and some show a much stronger European classical music influence. Quite a few of these tracks have a suprisingly moody, atmospheric feel. Others sound more like American swing bands (Rostaing on clarinet invites Benny Goodman comparisons).
However, it is still the tracks with small string-based bands, especially with Grapelli's violin, that really throw off sparks. The first disc, in particular, is simply unbelievable, and it took me some time to move on to the subsequent discs - I just kept playing disc 1! This is the Quintet at its peak, exceeding my wildest expectations.
So, as interesting and enjoyable as the war-time tracks are, they tend to dilute the intensity and quality of the package, at least a little. I'd therefore recommend vol. 1 as more essential, and the place to start.
Packaging notes: True to JSP budget-priced form (quality sound being more important than pretty pictures), the packaging is skimpy, with all essential documentation (personnel, dates, etc.) and some limited commentary, and that's it. While the design is more professional looking than the rather amateurish graphics of volume 1, I miss Ted Kendall's chatty, personable liner notes.
But I do have to comment on the sound quality. One of the remarkable things about the first installment of this set (the 5 CD box) is its sound. Engineer Ted Kendall did a sterling job of collecting the best quality sources and then cutting as little as possible from the output to give us the music. By contrast, this set is far less impressive. There is much less depth to the bass and the high end has been truncated a bit too in the interest of getting rid of surface noise.
It is because of the sound that I give this set three stars (and really would give it three and one-half if there was that option).
There is more swing, more fun, and more incredible guitar playing on these discs than you'll ever hear anywhere else.
Even though they contain no lengthy linear notes, 'free booklets,' posters, etc., these are, without a doubt, the greatest multi-disc box sets I have ever heard.