PersonaVideo January, 30th 2012 by

Stéphane Grappelli - A Jazz Supremo Of The Violin

Stéphane Grappelli and Michel Legrand at the Royal Festival Hall London 1984 performing  “How High is the Moon”


In my youth, my close friends and I were great  Stéphane Grappelli fans, often spending hours over a coffee in intimate, often packed smoke-filled coffee bars that were popular and the fashion at that time in the UK,  discussing his music and that of the other Jazz genius Django Reinhardt, and comparing the various famous jazz talents of that era. Later in the evening we would listen intently to modern jazz that was often performed live by enthusiastic and dedicated local jazz musicians who entertained us with gusto and considerable skill with their repertoire of music, some inspired by the two mentioned artists. It was a great time of our youth which also involved us in the folk music scene.

A few years later I too was in show business with my sister Delia and one morning, I actually bumped into Stéphane Grappelli  coming out of the London Management Agency near Soho in London (which was in those days the most prestigious artist management company in the UK and our professional representatives also). To my surprise, he was much taller than I had imagined, but by the time I had recovered from the shock of meeting him, we had been introduced, shook hands, exchanged a brief few words and before I had time to go into any conversation with my musical idol, he and his agent politely said their goodbyes and departed. Sadly for me I never met this gifted musician again.

Dario Poli

Biography below of Stéphane Grappelli from various sources:

Stéphane Grappelli  was a French jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934 and it was one of the first all-string jazz bands.

Grappelli was born in Paris, France, to Italian/French parents: his father, marquess Ernesto Grappelli, was born in Alatri, Lazio. His French mother died when he was four and his father left to fight in World War I. As a result, at six he was accepted into Isadora Duncan’s dance school, where he learnt to love French Impressionist music. Grappelli started his musical career busking on the streets of Paris and Montmartre with a violin.

He began playing the violin at age 12, and attended the Conservatoire de Paris studying music theory, between 1924 and 1928.

He made his living by busking on the side until he gained fame in Paris as a violin virtuoso. He also worked as a silent film pianist while at the conservatory and played the saxophone and accordion. Grappelli called his piano “My Other Love” and (many years later) released an album of solo piano of the same name. (From wikipedia)

For the first three decades of his musical career, Grappelli was billed as Stéphane Grappelly. Grappelli’s own explanation for the changed spelling was that he was tired of people mispronouncing his last name as “Grappell-eye”. It has also been suggested that Grappelli had changed his name in order to avoid military service in Italy, although this claim has been greeted with skepticism by his biographers.

His early fame came playing with the Quintette du Hot Club de France with Django Reinhardt, which disbanded in 1939 due to World War II. In 1940, a little known jazz pianist by the name of George Shearing made his debut as a sideman in Grappelli’s band.

Grappelli and Menuhin

After the war Grapelli  appeared on hundreds of recordings including sessions with Duke Ellington, jazz pianists Oscar Peterson, Michel Petrucciani and Claude Bolling, jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, jazz violinist Stuff Smith, Indian classical violinist L. Subramaniam, vibraphonist Gary Burton, pop singer Paul Simon, mandolin player David Grisman, classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, orchestral conductor André Previn, guitar player Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar player Joe Pass, cello player Yo Yo Ma, harmonica and jazz guitar player Toots Thielemans, jazz guitarist Henri Crolla, bassist  and fiddler Mark O’Connor. He also collaborated extensively with the British guitarist and graphic designer Diz Disley, recording 13 record albums withhim and his trio (which included Denny Wright in its early years), and with now renowned British guitarist Martin Taylor. His Parisian trio of many years included guitarist Marc Fosset and bassist Patrice Carratini.

Stephane Grappelli & Carlini King of the Gypsies

During the 1960s he played for cocktail hour at the Paris Hilton.

Grappelli recorded a solo for the title track of Pink Floyd’s album Wish You Were Here. This was made almost inaudible in the mix, and so the violinist was not credited, according to Roger Waters, as it would be “a bit of an insult”.

Grappelli madea cameo appearance in the 1978 film King of the Gypsies, along with noted mandolinist David Grisman. Three years later they performed together in concert, which was recorded live and released to critical acclaim.

In the 1980s he gave several concerts with the young British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. In 1997, Grappelli received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an inductee of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. He died in Paris and is buried in Paris’ famous Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Djangology: ,, the Gypsy Genius (1936 to 1940)
Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhart the Gold Edition (1934 to 1937, copyright 1998)
Bill Coleman with Django and Stephane Grappelli 1936 to 1938 (released 1985, DRG Records)
Unique Piano Session Paris 1955 (1955, Jazz Anthology)
Improvisations (Paris, 1956)
Afternoon in Paris (1971, MPS)
Manoir de Mes Reves (1972, Musidisc)
Homage To Django (1972, released 1976 Classic Jazz)
Just one of those things! (1973 Black Lion Records) Recorded at the 1973 Montreaux Jazz festival
Stephane Grappelli- I Got Rhythm! (1974 Black Lion Records) with Diz Disley, Denny Wright and Len Skeatrecorded at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 5 November, 1973
Shades of Django (1975, MPS)
Satin Doll (1975, Vanguard)
The Rock Peter and the Wolf (1976 RSO Records) (2007 CD Verdant Records) with Jack Lancaster, Phil Collins, Brian Eno, Keith Tippett, Julie Tippetts, Gary Brooker, Gary Moore, Alvin Lee, Manfred Mann etc.
Stephane Grappelli and Cordes (1977, Musidisc)
Live at Carnegie Hall (1978, Signature)
Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti: Venupelli Blues (1979, Affinity)
Oscar Peterson Skol (1979, released 1990 Pablo)
Young Django (1979, MPS)
Sonny Lester Collection (1980, LRC)
Stephane Grappelli `80 (1980 Happy Bird)
Stephane Grappelli/David Grisman Live at Berklee (recorded Sept. 20th 1979, Boston, Massachusetts)
Stephane Grappelli (Pye)
Diz Disley Live at Carnegie Hall (1983, Dr Jazz)
Vintage 1981 (1981, Concord)
Just One Of Those Things (1984, EMI Studios)
Grappelli Plays George Gershwin (1984, Musidisc)
Martin Taylor: We’ve Got The World on a String (1984, EMI)
Stuff Smith: Violins No End (1984, Pablo)
Fascinating Rhythm (1986, Jazz Life)
Live in San Francisco (1986, Blackhawk)
Classic Sessions: Stephane Grappelli, with Phil Woods and Louie Bellson (1987, RTV Communications Group)
Stephane Grappelli Plays Jerome Kern (1987, GRP)
The Intimate Grappelli (1988, Jazz Life)
How Can You Miss, with Louie Bellson and Phil Woods (1989, Rushmore)
Jean-Luc Ponty – Violin Summit (1989, Jazz Life)
Jazz ‘Round Midnight (1989, Verve)
Stephane Grappelli in Tokyo (1991, A & M records)
Bach to the Beatles (1991, Academy Sound)
Stephane Grappelli 1992 Live (1992, Verve)
Michel Legrand (1992, Verve)
Martin Taylor Reunion (1993, Linn Records)
Jazz Masters (20+-year compilation, 1994, Verve)
85 and Still Swinging (1993, Angel)
Stephane Grappelli Live at the Blue Note (1996, Telarc Jazz)
Crazy Rhythm (1996/2000, Pulse)
Parisian Thoroughfare (1997, Laserlight) (from Wikipedia) 

Dario Poli

Composer, artist, and a published author and illustrator. He is initiator of the campaign to present a better image Internationally, of Marbella and the Costa del Sol. Composer of the music "Marbella Marbella" used as the anthem of the campaign and also many other recorded compositions including Nostradamus, and Corazon, for The Children for Peace Onlus charity in Rome as well as the co-author of the powerful musical drama Lady X and The Power of Destiny. He is also the editor and a founder member of this website.

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