This gorgeously packaged three-disc box set collects a range of guitar genius Django Reinhardt's work from the pre- and post-war periods. The first disc consists almost exclusively of the recordings he made with the original Quintette du Hot Club de France between 1934 and 1940. These are some of Reinhardt's most enduring sides, and include classics like "Minor Swing," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "Swing 39," with plenty of chugging rhythmic intensity from the drumless ensemble and showers of dazzling leads from violinist Stephane Grappelli.
The second disc, which covers '40 through '47, mixes Quintette du Hot Club dates with some of the artist's other sessions--including big-band recordings--on a range of standards ("Embraceable You") and originals (the beautiful "Nuages"). The third disc spans '47 through '53, and finds Reinhardt moving away somewhat from his "gypsy jazz" and more toward a mainstream swing sound. The thread through the entire set, naturally, is the virtuosity of Reinhardt's playing, the speed and grace of his lines, and the poetry of his expression. An annotated booklet packed with photographs accompanies this superbly selected box, making RETROSPECTIVE a definitive overview, and an essential purchase.