All of these sides but one (a pop vocal by Charles Trenet) were made in December 1940, just half a year into the Nazi occupation of Paris. People are still marveling over the fact that Django Reinhardt, a Gypsy who played music closely aligned with Jews and Afro-Americans, was not arrested and put to death by the invasive regime, for these collective jams were and are the antithesis of fascist ideology. It just so happens that this little slice of the chronology contains some of Reinhardt's most interesting material, wonderfully evolved from the earlier Hot Club de France, yet filled with premonitions of how jazz would come to sound ten or even 20 years later. Hubert Rostaing was an inventive clarinetist, sounding something like Marshall Royal, and is featured on most of these sides. Alix Combelle blew a boisterous, Coleman Hawkins-inspired tenor saxophone (as does Rostaing on the sessions of December 18 and 19). Present throughout all of these sessions is a wonderful percussionist by the name of Pierre Fouad, who recorded as a leader for the Swing label a few years later. Tony Rovira deserves to be remembered as a gifted bassist, particularly for the sensitivity he demonstrates on these recordings. The most precious and musically inventive track is "Oiseaux des iles," a brilliantly constructed gypsy-jazz fantasy of such ethnic potency that it would have given Dr. Goebbels a case of non-Aryan indigestion. Trumpeter Pierre Allier, sort of a French person's Frankie Newton, leads a couple of bands, both small and not-so-small, providing one or two examples of how Reinhardt sounded as part of the rhythm section in a large jazz orchestra. The crowning glory of this wonderful album is "Festival Swing," a four-minute all-star big band blowout, with Charles Delaunay introducing each and every member of the band in French, providing English-speaking people with a valuable pronouncing lexicon for all of those wonderful French names.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Festival Swing
feat: Charles Trénet