Can there be a more instantly recognisable sound in all popular music than this?
The scurrying, worryingly supernatural guitar of Django Reinhardt coupled with the switchback swoonings of Stephane Grappelli`s fiddle. So redolent too of a particular time and place, Paris in the `30s. (For anyone reading this after I`m dead and gone, I mean the 1930s.)
That these two master musicians should have found each other is cause for eternal gratitude and delight - the gods themselves must have been over the moon - such is the absolute felicity of their interplay on these precious tracks.
More compilations of this group exist than you can shake a stick at. This is a perfectly fine single-CD collection, in good sound, with clear listings and brief but sensible sleevenotes. You get 22 tracks lasting 66 minutes. Picking out favourite numbers is pointless, every one is a gem.
It`s interesting to hear, on Limehouse Blues, the impressionistic way Django creates
a mood with his fast strumming and tremulous holding of notes. At times, for example on the gorgeous Moonglow, his guitar sounds like a zither - suddenly we`re in Vienna, with Orson Welles lurking in a doorway...
Listen too to the rapt, heart-stopping way he bends notes on Night And Day.
One thing that makes this music so timeless is the sense of on-the-spot spontaneity each track exudes, though the arrangements must have been agreed on and worked till they glowed with brilliance. But there`s always room to breathe, however frenetic some of the tunes are.
If you want a one-CD taster of this Quintet, this one is as good as any I`ve heard, and better than many on cheap labels with indifferent sound.
Whether heard as background music in a cafe, played at home in private, or caught en passant from someone`s radio, the music these guys made is imperishable, inevitable, indispensable.