From any perspective, the playing of Stephane Grappelli and the music of Jerome Kern were a perfect combination. More than anyone else, Kern was the man who brought the full grandeur of traditional classical music to the Great American Songbook, with his soaring melodies and sophisticated harmonies, and Grappelli, more than anyone else, was the musician who showed that the number one implement of classical music – the violin – could work in a jazz context. In their defacto “collaboration,” both Grappelli and Kern mutually found a copasetic midpoint between American jazz and the European classics, and were sublimely suited to each other.
Grappelli (1908-1997) was hitting yet another of his many career high points in the late ’80s. Even as he was turning 80, the venerated violinist was touring and recording constantly, much in demand as a hard-swinging elder statesman of the violin and of European Jazz. He was regularly heard on two or three albums a year at that point, all of them special, none more than this brilliant songbook package. Continue reading