Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Django Reinhardt

  • Django Reinhardt [Koch International, 1995] A-
  • Djangology [Bluebird, 2002] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Django Reinhardt [Koch International, 1995]
The label is per the late, lamented CDNow, which listed this 66th of 68 Reinhardt albums for $8.49; the copy I bought my wife for Christmas a few years ago says Koch Präsent. It has a purple-and-green cover, track listings indicating years, times, and composers but not personnel, and liner notes comprising two blank squares of paper. So it goes with the Roma guitarist, whose discography is as impenetrable as any in jazz. Take for instance Bluebird's high-profile 2002 Djangology, which proves a warmed-up remaster of Bluebird's 1990 Djangology 49 in different order with prettier packaging for a few dollars more. The '49 session reunites the classic Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which means mainly violinist Stephane Grappelli, who as a Chuck and Jimi fan I like as much as the eclectic three-fingered melody master. Probably because he was getting old, I find Djangology mellower than guitar music should be. The material and players on these '36-'37 sessions are a mess, but recognizable standards are the rule, with anonymous vocalists and obstreperous big bands intruding only occasionally. More important, this CD is hot--hotter than two 2001 releases also at hand, Naxos Jazz's Vol. 2 and Music Club's Swing Jazz. Blistering, in fact--what pace. He "swings," all right--like Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie. A-

Djangology [Bluebird, 2002]
For years the only Django CD I played was the intense, disorderly purple-and-green Koch one from the mid-'30s I bought my wife one Christmas, still findable cheap used and still recommended. But recently I've preferred this somewhat mellower and much more coherent big-label retrospective from 1949, four years before the seminal Gypsy guitarist died at 43. Spiked by his reunion with the sprightly, swinging, indomitable violinist Stéphane Grappelli, who lived to 91 himself, the sessions were skillfully recorded in Italy with the pair's prewar Hot Club of Paris repertoire in mind. The comfortable surety here sacrifices neither swing nor speed despite a rhythm section that doesn't add much. A little Tchaikovsky? A pop chanson called "Où es-tu mon amour?" that would later be covered by Django fan Willie Nelson? As long as the tempo picks up fast enough, only a clod would say no. A