Much has been written about the rebirth of older jazz styles at the beginning of the '70s, but violinist Stephane Grappelli never stopped playing classic swing. Furthermore, he provided a place for multiple guitarists like Martin Taylor to hone their skills and make a living. Vintage Grappelli is just that: two discs from 1981 that find the master in superb form. The first, originally titled At the Winery, kicks off with a sassy version of "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" before dipping into the classic "Love for Sale." The warm tone of Grappelli's violin, the appreciative audience, and nice solos from Taylor and guitarist John Etheridge make this music immediately accessible. Listening to pieces like "Angel's Camp" and "Minor Swing," one feels a twinge of envy toward the lucky crowd who attended this show: With good wine and vintage jazz, what more could they have asked for? On the second disc, originally Vintage 1981, guitarist Mike Gari plays on several tracks, replacing John Etheridge. The material, mostly standards like "Blue Moon" and "Honeysuckle Rose," complements the first disc. There's even the appearance of another Stevie Wonder tune, "Isn't She Lovely," proving the pop musicians are still capable of writing jazz-worthy songs. Perhaps the most enduring quality of these two albums is Grappelli and company's ability to infuse a vibrant joy into everything they play. This leaves one with the impression of a bunch of guys doing what they do best and having a good time doing it. One should also note the excellent work of bassist Jack Sewing who adds depth and drive to both sets. Vintage Grappelli offers an hour and a half of joyful jazz and shouldn't be missed.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2