Stéphane Grappelli

Stéphane Grappelli
Stéphane Grappelli (1908-1997)

Unpretentious, classically-trained, tender and blissful. The sun is always shining when Grappelli plays. My parents bought an LP called Uptown Dance (1978). The title track was arranged lushly by Claus Ogerman. That piece is probably one of my ‘desert island discs’.

Stéphane Grappelli has influenced me by his continuously-positive outlook on life, the ‘fun’ in his playing, the ways he improvises (e.g. playing cantabile and arpeggiating through overtones). He swings unselfconsciously. It’s critical that one is not aware of one’s self while improvising. As he said:

I play best when I am happy or sad, or when I was young and in love. If I have ordinary troubles, I forget everything when I play. I split into two people and the other plays

He would only analyse what he had done in the recording afterwards:

One hears something when listening to recorded music that one doesn’t hear while playing it. And you find yourself saying, ‘gee, one shouldn’t do that, one should do it differently.

Few know Grappelli was also an accomplished pianist.

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