Stéphane Grappelli

Stephane Grappelli in Tokyo

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Stephane Grappelli in Tokyo Review

by Ken Dryden

Stephane Grappelli may have given up standing during concerts late in life as a concession to his health, but at the age of 82, he still swung like mad with the best of them, as heard in this 1990 concert recorded in Tokyo. Accompanied by guitarist Marc Fosset and bassist Jean-Philippe Viret, with the addition of accordion player Marcel Azzola on a few selections, the violinist devotes a good part of his show to the expected standards from the 1930s and 1940s. Highlights include a swinging "Just One of Those Things," a delightful "Honeysuckle Rose" and a loping "Ol' Man River," the latter which adds ripples supplied by Azzola's accordion, until the dam breaks and the second half of the song comes on like a spring flood. The inevitable tribute to his late partner Django Reinhardt comes in the form of a cooking medley of the guitarist's "Nuages" and "Daphne." But Grappelli was also open to exploring newer works. He treats the audience to a bossa nova flavored take of Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (opening with a bit of pizzicato violin) and a fleet interpretation of Sonny Rollins' "Pentup House," featuring a great series of trade-offs between the violinist and Azzola. This is easily one of the better Stephane Grappelli CDs from late in his career.

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