Stephane Grappelli (1908-1997) was a French-Italian jazz violinist and jazz pianist. He is most well known for his collaboration with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Grappelli also played with many other great musicians including jazz pianist Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, and violinists Eddie South, Stuff Smith, Svend Asmussen, Yehudi Menuhin, and Joe Venuti. Throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, Grappelli was constantly re-inventing his playing style to stay relevant. It wasn’t until 1970 that his performing career took off again. He began touring the world. Grappelli continued to perform and record until his death at age 89 in 1997.
Joe Venuti (1903-1978) was an Italian jazz violinist. He and jazz guitarist Eddie Lang are credited with being the first musicians to play violin guitar jazz. After Lang’s early death in 1933 Venuti played with various groups. In the 1940s and 1950s Joe Venuti’s star began to fade and he suffered from alcoholism. He was “re-discovered” in 1967 and resumed regular performances and made many recordings until his death in 1978 from lung cancer.
Here are two pieces from a recording that Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti made together in 1969 called “Venupelli Blues.” The first piece is called “Venupelli Blues” (a word that combines the last names of both violinists) and the second is a jazz standard called “After You’ve Gone.” I hope that you enjoy this music. The other musicians playing with Grappelli and Venuti on the recording are Barney Kessel on guitar and George Wein on piano. They are part of a supporting four-piece rhythm section.