Stephane Grappelli & Toots Thielemans – Bringing It Together (1984)

FrontCover1Stéphane Grappelli 26 January 1908 – 1 December 1997, born Stefano Grappelli) was a French jazz violinist. He is best known as a founder of the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934. It was one of the first all-string jazz bands. He has been called “the grandfather of jazz violinists” and continued playing concerts around the world well into his eighties.

For the first three decades of his career, he was billed using a gallicised spelling of his last name, Grappelly, reverting to Grappelli in 1969. The latter, Italian spelling is now used almost universally when referring to the violinist, including reissues of his early work. (wikipedia)

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Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans (29 April 1922 – 22 August 2016), known professionally as Toots Thielemans, was a Belgian jazz musician. He was mostly known for his chromatic harmonica playing, as well as his guitar and whistling skills, and composing. According to jazz historian Ted Gioia, his most important contribution was in “championing the humble harmonica”, which Thielemans made into a “legitimate voice in jazz”. He eventually became the “preeminent” jazz harmonica player.

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His first professional performances were with Benny Goodman’s band when they toured Europe in 1949 and 1950. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1951, becoming a citizen in 1957. From 1953 to 1959 he played with George Shearing, and then led his own groups on tours in the U.S. and Europe. In 1961 he recorded and performed live one of his own compositions, “Bluesette”, which featured him playing guitar and whistling. In the 1970s and 1980s, he continued touring and recording, appearing with musicians such as Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Werner, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Mina Mazzini, Elis Regina, Quincy Jones, George Shearing, Natalie Cole, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and Paquito D’Rivera.

Thielemans recorded the soundtracks for The Pawnbroker (1964), Midnight Cowboy (1969), The Getaway (1972), Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Sugarland Express (1974) and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977). His harmonica theme song for the popular Sesame Street TV show was heard for 40 years. He often performed and recorded with Quincy Jones, who once called him “one of the greatest musicians of our time.”[4] In 2009 he was designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor for a jazz musician in the United States. (wikipedia)

The Band

This 1984 studio session finally appeared commercially on the Cymekob label in 1995, featuring violinist Stéphane Grappelli in a rare meeting with harmonica player Toots Thielemans; the rest of the group included guitarists Martin Taylor and Marc Fosset with bassist Brian Torff. Though producer Andy Kulberg claims in his notes that neither musician had recorded any of the songs, this is a bit of a stretch. Things get off to a good start with a swinging “Bye Bye Blackbird” and are only weighed down slightly by the tedious “Just the Two of Us” and Paul Simon’s lightweight “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” The rich ballad “Georgia on My Mind” rekindles the fire within the session and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” is highlighted by Thielemans’ matchless whistling. While this release could have been stronger with better chosen songs, it will be an essential acquisition for fans of either Grappelli or Thielemans. (by Ken Dryden)

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Personnel:
Marc Fosset (guitar)
Stéphane Grappelli (violin)
Martin Taylor (guitar)
Toots Thielemans (harmonica, guitar)
Brian Torff (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Bye Bye Blackbird (Grappelli/Thielemans) 4.16
02. Just the Two of Us (Grappelli/Thielemans) 5.32
03. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Simon) 4.48
04. Georgia On My Mind (Carmichael/Gorrell) 5.59
05. The Jitterbug Waltz (Waller) 3.57
06. You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To (Porter) 3.44
07. Hit The Road Jack (Mayfield) 5.07
08.Limehouse Blues (Furber) 3.21
09. As Time Goes By (Hupfeld) 3.23

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