After being separated by the Second World War for more than five years, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli recorded eight sides together in London on January 31 and February 1, 1946. Their next shared studio recording date occurred in Paris on May 26, 1947, resulting in the five decidedly modernistic tracks that open this volume of the Classics Django Reinhardt chronology. Django had clearly evolved at a rate commensurate with the rapid evolution of jazz itself from 1939 to 1947. His solos reveal a musical consciousness well beyond where he had been only a few years earlier. Stéphane, of course, had also experienced his own sort of artistic development. Yet the contrast between the two is noticeable and it would take the violinist many years to absorb and fully digest what he was now experiencing. On April 16, 1947, Django recorded a "Minor Blues" with the 12-piece band that had been working with him at the Boef sur le Toit, a Parisian nightclub where his own paintings -- a sensual series of landscapes and nudes -- were on display. He then led a reconstituted Quintet of the Hot Club of France, featuring clarinet/alto saxophonist Michel de Villers, through four pleasant musical episodes intended to be used as a soundtrack for La Fleur de l'Age, a film by Marçel Carne that unfortunately never reached completion. Note that this group's "Clair de Lune" is not the famous movement from Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, but something just as lovely. Django's next opportunity to make records in a studio occurred in Brussels on May 21st during a tour of Belgium. The six sides cut on that day and subsequently released on the Decca label represent Reinhardt's very first recordings using an electric guitar. They also herald the return of master clarinetist Hubert Rostaing, who made great records with Reinhardt's groups during the year 1940 and reappears sporadically in the Django discography like a will o' the wisp throughout most of the decade. This excellent clarinetist was in the same league as Marshall Royal, Aaron Sachs, Hank D'Amico, or perhaps most of all Buddy DeFranco. Rostaing recorded extensively with Django during the year 1947, and their phonographic collaborations would continue until another Belgian tour in November of 1948. Everything included on this disc qualifies as jazz of the very highest order. There's bebop running through these sessions like quicksilver, and Reinhardt had begun to experiment with the quirks and expanded potentials of the electrified guitar. "Porto Cabello" is smoky, almost a tango. "Blues for Barclay," dedicated to Blue Star record label founders Eddie and Nicole Barclay, feels like a spontaneous jam session. Even Edvard Grieg's Danse Norvegienne, which sounded almost silly when they tried it on in 1940, comes across in its 1947 incarnation as effortlessly hip.
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