Stéphane Grappelli & Stuff Smith: How High The Moon
How High The Moon
Jazz in Paris: Stuff and Steff (Universal Music 016510-2)
René Urtreger (piano), Michel Gaudry (bass), Michel Delaporte (drums).
Composed by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis.
Recorded: Paris, June 22, 1965
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Stéphane Grappelli and Stuff Smith were, along with Joe Venuti, the most significant and influential early jazz violinists. Stéphane and Stuff display their contrasting styles on this version of "How High the Moon" from 1965, just two years before Stuff's death. Smith had the coarser, straighter tone with little if any vibrato, played with more blues feeling due to the way he slurred his notes, and sometimes would hit a string with his bow in a way that produced a plucked effect. Grappelli's more elegant style grew out of the classical and Gypsy guitar traditions, and he had the admirable ability to maintain his rich vibrato at any tempo and in any register. Bix Beiderbecke's piano playing, Grappelli once said, had "a fantastic psychological effect on me." Smith's style, on the other hand, he said was inspired more by such horn players as Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Red Nichols. You can hear all that and more on this track, as the violinists challenge each other, playing intricate, careening lines in their distinctive solos. After pianist Urtreger's well played, boppish improv, Stéphane and Stuff trade passages in exciting fashion, and then give drummer Delaporte some space, which he utilizes skillfully. Very hot jazz from a hot group.
Reviewer: Scott Albin