Stéphane Grappelli

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

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By the time the 71-year-old Stephane Grappelli made this live trio recording with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, his legacy as the greatest of all jazz violinists was firmly in place. Granted, that made him first in a fairly short line of colleagues -- other than Joe Venuti and Stuff Smith, who else was there to consider? (Jean-Luc Ponty doesn't count.) But it's hard to imagine another player, regardless of virtuosity, ever conveying the same sense of swing and simple joie de vivre that Grappelli does with virtually every note. Nor does it hurt that his accompanists on this album are among the finest in their fields; Orsted Pedersen plays with a solidity and rhythmic power that are enough to make you forget the absence of a drummer, while Pass slides effortlessly between unobtrusive chordal backup and bravura soloing. The program itself is practically a Grapelli greatest-hits collection -- "It's Only a Paper Moon," "Crazy Rhythm," "How Deep Is the Ocean," etc. -- which makes this disc a perfect introduction to his art for anyone looking for a good place to begin. Highly recommended.

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