Stephane Grappelli & Diz Disley Trio
recorded March 1975
A solid tribute piece, one of several that recount the impact and influence of Reinhardt.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Even though it is more than 20 years since Django Reinhardt died, and despite the fact that his brilliant partner, Stephane Grappelli, has, in the last two decades, made literally dozens of albums with a conventional rhythm section, it is still in the ali-strings context of the QUINTETTE DU HOT CLUB DE FRANCE that most people think of Stephane's music.
What is perhaps surprising is that while those of us with receding hairlines and advancing waistlines who rejoice in that chunky, jangly rhythm sound, are ready to accede that it does sound a little dated (though none the less enjoyable for that) a whole new generation of swing fans, hearing that Hot Club sound for the first time, are, to judge from the standing ovations Stephane and the Trio are getting wherever they play these days, reacting to it as if it is the latest "in" sound. Plus ca change ...
For twenty years Stephane Grappelli resisted repeated attempts to reconstitute the old QUINTETTE - resisted because there was only one Django, could never be another, and the QUINTETTE without Django would be at least as unthinkable as the Venuti Blue Four without Eddie Lang.
Finally it was the persistence and perception of a Canadian-born graphic artist and acoustic guitarist Diz Disley, that persuaded Stephane to revive the two guitars/string bass rhythm section. Since then, Stephane Grappelli and the Diz Disley Trio have been playing mostly to packed houses in Britain, Europe, America and Australia and building a huge following for their special sound.
Says Stephane: "We have not really re-created the old QUINTETTE sound because no-one plays Django's role. We have, so to speak, left an empty chair for him. Also, Diz and Ike Isaacs have a more modern touch and the pulse is a little more subtle.1'
A sensible comparison can, in fact, be made with the Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet - but the work of Stephane with the Disley Trio is, nevertheless, still agreeably reminiscent of the HOT CLUB QUINTETTE of the thirties. And certainly the quartet's concert repertoire (with "Nuages", "Ma-noir de Mes Reves", "Confessin'", "Daphne" and others) tends to maintain the link.
in the note for the British sleeve of Stephane Grappelli's previous MPS album ("Afternoon In Paris", BAP 5001 or MPS/BASF 21 20876-1) I observed that his playing is better today than ever - and nothing has happened since March 1971, when Grappelli made that album, to require modification of that view.
ike Isaacs, a discerning and gifted musician, is positively lyrical about Grappelli's genius: "He is artistically impeccable - full of surprises ana full of vitality and his music is so expressive, so compelling, that it reaches people of all ages. He is, quity simply, a virtuoso - and he has a wonderfully receptive mind musically. When I play passages with him "coll'a voce", he responds instantly to chord variations. He has a great harmonic sense and very acute ears.
"Stephane is really a pianist on the violin because he thinks both vertically and horizontally."
This is the first major studio recording by Stephane with the Diz Disley Trio and it features a number cf imperishable standards which were chosen because, though they form a staple part of the Grappelli concert repertoire, they have been somewhat neglected as far as recordings are concerned.
"Joy", with its appealing chord sequence, is an original by Ike Isaacs; "Hot Lips" is a celebrated Django composition; and "Souvenir de Villingen", is a haunting theme composed by Stephane on the train between Paris to Zurich (on his way to Villingen). This is a rare track, since it features Stephane on electric piano and overdubbed violin, and it is a delightfully romantic sketch. It is interesting, incidentally, that Grappelli originally intended to make his musical career as a pianist. For the fact that, instead, he became a violinist - one of the most eloquent and imaginative in jazz - we can thank Art Tatum. "I heard him on record for the first time in 1935," says Stephane, "and was so astonished and disturbed by his genius that I temporarily lost my enthusiasm for the piano and determined to concentrate on violin."
Diz Disiey, whose rhythm guitar (a Macaferri similar to that favoured by the Reinhardts) supplies so much of the Hot Club feeling to the music, has been on the British music scene for many years,
working initially with traditional jazz bands led by Sandy Brown, Ken Colyer and Mick Mulligan and then moving on to skiffle with Bob Cort and Nancy Whiskey. He worked with Ike Isaacs on the BBC's "Guitar Club" for a number of years and also earned some distinction as an illustrator for the Melody Maker and Radio Times.
Ike Isaacs was born in Rangoon, Burma, and has lived and worked in Britain since 1948. Before joining the Diz Disley trio in May 1974, succeeding Denny Wright, Ike was one of the busiest of Britain's session musicians. He worked in the Ted Heath and Cyril Stapleton bands and first played with Stephane in the late forties. On this album he uses a Gibson L 7 cello guitar which he has had for many years.
When this album was recorded, Diz Disley was in the throes of making a change in the string bass department of the trio, so we enlisted as a temporary member Swiss bassist Isla Ecklnger - and his sure time, big tone and sound harmonic sense Immediately won him the enthusiastic approval of his fellow musicians. Eckinger is a regular member of the fine Swiss traditional band, the Tremble Kids, and has also worked with Dexter Gordon, Slide Hampton, Johnny Griffin, Benny Bailey and many other distinguished jazzmen.
Stephane was particularly happy to return to Villingen to make this album because he has a high regard for the brilliance of Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, not only as a recording engineer but as "one of the few men in the record industry who puts music before business."
That's the background. The music, as ever, speaks for itself and I think the MPS studios have perfectly captured the essence of Grappelli's musical vocabulary - its unremitting sprightliness and vitality, its warmth and tenderness, its lyrical romanticism and its sheer, unalloyed, infectious swing.
It is not difficult to see why the music of Stephane Grappelli and the Diz Disley Trio evokes such intense enthusiasm among such a wide-ranging cross-section of people. If you don't balk at French jeux de mots, you could put it down to the Quartet's magnificent esprit de cordes.
-Mike Hennessey (1975)