Stéphane Grappelli

Reunion [Linn]

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Violinist Stephane Grappelli recorded tirelessly over the decades following his legendary 1930s recordings with six-string genius Django Reinhardt, and in his later years began to perform with significantly younger musicians. One such collaborator was guitarist Martin Taylor, who had some mighty big shoes to fill following Reinhardt. But Taylor proves up to the challenge on these sessions from the early '90s that find the pair continuing a collaboration they began in the '70s. The clean, intimate sound created by the acoustic duo lulls and seduces, yet still swings with a great, galvanizing energy.

The heights of Grappelli's virtuosity are well known, and his chops are in splendid order here, even despite his advanced age at the time of this recording. Taylor's work, in many places, is so astonishing it defies belief. On his solo numbers, "Miraval" and the melancholic ballad "Emily," Taylor plays bass lines, chords, and complex leads simultaneously, masking the near-impossible achievement with acute sensitivity to dynamics and phrasing. He is the perfect foil for Grappelli, creating surging, skipping note webs beneath and around the violinist's soaring lines on "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Drop Me Off at Harlem," among others. REUNION is a study in instrumental mastery.

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