Joe Venuti and Earl Hines

Jazz violinist Joe Venuti and jazz pianist Earl Hines both began their careers in the 1920s. Venuti played with great jazz musicians such as Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Eddie Lang (Venuti and Lang were well known for their violin/guitar duos and they had an influence on Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli). Earl Hines played for many years with Louis Armstrong and was the pianist on several of Armstrong’s early recordings. It has been said that Hines was the only musician who matched Armstrong’s skill and inventive ideas when it came to improvisation.

In 1975, Joe Venuti and Earl Hines teamed up (this was the first time they played together) to make a recording called “Hot Sonatas.” Hines was brought out of retirement to make the recording and Joe Venuti was fading into obscurity (his partner Eddie Lang died early in 1933 and Venuti drank heavily). Venuti had a comeback in the late 1960s after a 15 year lull in his career. Here are a couple of tunes from the recording called “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else,” and “Hot Sonatas.” Enjoy!

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John Coltrane (and his quartet) and Johnny Hartman

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman is the name of a classic album of jazz ballads recorded in 1963. The recording is famous for the flawless performance of these wonderful songs as well as for the collaboration between John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (their one and only collaboration together). John Coltrane holds back from his famous mile-a-minute wild improvisations and for the most part sticks close to the melody in his improvisations. His sax playing nicely complements Johnny’s singing. Johnny Hartman’s deep velvety voice is very soothing and expressive. The two are backed up by John Coltrane’s famous quartet (John Coltrane on sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums). The recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013.

Here are two songs from that album. “They Say It’s Wonderful” and “You Are Too Beautiful.” Sit back wth a nice glass of wine and enjoy. This recording is great for unwinding at the end of a hectic day.

Django Reinhardt plays violin and guitar

Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)

Django Reinhardt was a gypsy guitarist famous for co-founding the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli in 1934. He made hundreds of recordings with the Quintet. Django also recorded with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, jazz violinist Eddie South, and lots of other jazz musicians in Europe and America.

During World War II the quintet split up. Django lived in Paris throughout the war and managed to avoid getting sent to a concentration camp. He kept on playing and recording.

Here are 4 rare Django Reinhardt recordings made in Belgium in 1942. These recordings are unusual because Django Reinhardt is accompanied by stride piano (stride piano was a form of jazz piano popular during the 1920s). Django plays solos on the guitar and violin accompanied on the piano by Ivon de Bie. He is famous for his virtuosic jazz guitar solos but violin was his first instrument. I hope that you enjoy this music.

Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti play “Venupelli Blues” and “After You’ve Gone”

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.

Stéphane Grappelli plays piano

Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997)

Stéphane Grappelli was a French-Italian jazz violinist and jazz pianist. Today he is most well known for his work with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France which he founded together with gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Throughout his long career Grappelli collaborated with several violinists (Ray Nance, Stuff Smith, Svende Asmussen, Jean-Luc Ponty, Svend Asmussen, Yehudi Menuhin, Joe Venuti) and other musicians including Marc Fosset, Joe Pass, and Oscar Peterson. He is best known for his jazz violin playing. Grappelli also played jazz piano at a very high level. Here is a clip of Stéphane Grappelli playing the piano. I hope that you enjoy it.

Rhythm Future Quartet – “Bushwick Stomp,” “Sleepless,” and “Made for Wesley”

Rhythm Future Quartet
An acoustic jazz quartet that is inspired by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. The quartet plays a variety of different music from gypsy jazz standards to more contemporary music.

Here are three recordings of the Rhythm Future Quartet. “Bushwick Stomp” is a modern gypsy jazz tune composed by Olli Soikkelli (the lead guitartist in the Rhythm Future Quartet). “Sleepless” is a tune composed by violinist Jason Anick of the Rhythm Future Quartet. “Made for Wesley” is an arrangement of a tune by violinist Jason Anick.

Jason Anick (violinist and band leader)
Jason Anick is a rising star in the gypsy jazz world. Before forming the Rhythm Future Quartet he performed with many famous musicians in the gypsy jazz world including Robin Nolan, John Jorgenson, Tony Ballog,and Alfonso Ponticelli.

Olli Soikkelli (lead guitarist)
Olli Soikkelli recently moved from Scandinavia to Brooklyn New York where he has become one of the top guitarists in the jazz scene.

Max O’ Rourke
At 19 years of age, Max has toured and recorded with John Jorgenson and Gonzalo Bergera, two of the top gypsy jazz guitarists.

Greg Loughman (bass)
Greg Loughman is a top bass player in Boston. At 41, he is the oldest member of the band.

John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman – Dedicated to You

Here is a recording of a jazz standard called “Dedicated to You” from the album called John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. The musicians on the recording are: Johnny Hartman (voice), John Coltrane (saxophone), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Reggie Workman (bass), Elvin Jones (drums), McCoy Tyner (piano). I hope that you enjoy this beautiful ballad.

Johnny Hartman (1923-1983)
Johnny Hartman was an American jazz singer. He specialized in singing ballads. His first professional work as a singer started in September 1946 when he won a singing contest and worked for a week with jazz pianist Earl Hines. That was so successful that Earl Hines hired Johnny Hartman to work with him the following year. Hartman then went on to work with Dizzy Gillespie and Errol Garner for a short time. Although he was a very talented singer and was an important influence for many other singers of his time such as Frank Sinatra, Hartman never got the recognition he deserved. Today he is best known by jazz lovers for his collaboration with John Coltrane on the album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Johnny Hartman died in 1983 from lung cancer.

John Coltrane (1926-1967)
John Coltrane was an American jazz saxophone player. He pioneered the use of modes in jazz and was one of the main people in promoting free jazz. Coltrane worked for a time with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Many of his recordings feature him playing a flurry of never ending fast notes and are quite abstract. The recording that John Coltrane made with Johnny Hartman is notable because Coltrane is playing in a more subdued fashion. He plays with a beautiful tone and there aren’t a lot of notes in his solos, but every note speaks from the heart.