Stephane Grappelli (1908-97) was - and is - one of the most loved jazz musicians ever, and his popularity extends to people who aren’t even, strictly speaking, jazz fans. Maybe it’s the warmth and joy and virtually effortless SWING that so clearly comes across in his playing, or his openness to the changes in music in general and jazz in particular (without ever pandering to prevailing trends). Just a partial list of the folks he’s played/collaborated with is staggering: Benny Carter, Earl Hines, Gary Burton, Oscar Peterson, Larry Coryell, Paul Simon, Jean-Luc Ponty, David Grisman, Coleman Hawkins and McCoy Tyner. Grappelli was one of the first European musicians to draw upon his own Gallic roots - which included the sounds of Gypsy/Rom folk music - for his unique sound rather than basing/borrowing upon American jazz players.
Stephane’s Tune compiles the records that he made with mostly British musicians (including a young George Shearing) in 1939-42, shortly after the legendary French sessions with guitarist Django Reinhardt. The program consists of Popular Tunes of The Day - "You’re The Cream In My Coffee," "After You’ve Gone," and "Ma (He’s Makin’ Eyes At Me)" - as well as some lesser-known (and corny) zingers. Some tracks feature somewhat sugary (by today’s standard?) female vocals.... so if you’re hoping for some sophisticated jazz compositions a la Ellington, Carter, et. al., you ain’t gonna find that here. Those fans of post-WWII jazz (especially the Children Of The Bebop/Hard Bop/Post Bop Eras) are hereby warned: the Corniness Factor is high. But those who can appreciate 20s/30s pop - an era where jazz itself was a variant of pop - as well as lovers of Grappelli should get this IMMEDIATELY, especially when one considers the budget price of this hour-long set. For the more modern Stephane, seek out the recently reissued Paris Encounter (with Gary Burton, on Label M) and/or One On One (with McCoy Tyner, on Milestone) - both are superb.