Django’s UK Recording Visit 1946 – Aged 36
26th January: 1946 Django arrives in the UK with Naguine & Babik and is greeted by Stephane Grappelli.
31st January ’46 – Abbey Road Studios, London.
First recordings of the post-war string quintet.
Django was suffering from Toothache or Throat problems and had to go to the French Hospital for treatment – his right cheek looks quite swollen
The Abbey Road Studios Recorded ‘English Quartet‘ of Django, Allan Hodgkiss (Hodgkins) Archtop, West Indian Bassist Coleridge Goode, & Jack Llewellyn on Grande Bouche Selmer, concealed by Stephane.
When Reinhardt was reunited with Grappelli in London after the war, promoter Charles Delauney saw an opportunity to revive the music of le Quintette and arranged for Reinhardt & Grappelli to attend EMI’s Abbey Road studios to make further recordings for le Quintette. The Abbey Road Session took place on 31st January and the Decca Studios on 1st February 1946. The other members of the original Quintette were unable to obtain visas, (or were banned by the MU more likely) and the recordings were made with Jack Llewllyn & Allan Hodgkiss (Hodgkins) rhythm guitars) and West Indian Coleridge Goode on Double Bass.
Le Quintette had been a long-established ensemble with a distinctive style, and yet these recordings were made with only 2 of its original members. Hugh Palmer observes, “It says much for the London-based Musicians present on this session – that they were able to blend in so well.” At least 2 photographs of these sessions were taken, and they appear in The Guitar Style of Django Reinhardt & the Gypsies by Ian Cruickshank. In both of them Jack is obscured by Grappelli. The publicity-shy Jack no doubt felt that Grappelli was doing him a favour.
Eight tracks, including a new recording of Reinhardt’s composition Nuages were recorded. These are celebrated recordings that feature time and again in Jazz compilations. They are significant in the sense that they represent almost the last recordings made by le Quintette in “the great tradition”: the following year saw Reinhardt favouring the use of the Electric Guitar & Amplification. The reformed Quintette continued intermittently to play & record together until 1948. It has been said that their performances were often quite brilliant but their popularity was gone. When Reinhardt died prematurely in 1953, BMG carried an obituary that included tributes from “well known guitarists” including Jack. In his tribute Jack describes himself as a great admirer and friend of Reinhardt and comments “He will always be remembered for his contribution to single-string playing as we know it today”.
Allan Hodgkin’s BMG Article on Django’s 1946 Visit and his Petite Bouche Guitar
Alan Hodgkiss in conversation with Ike Isaacs.
I was having a conversation with guitarist Allan Hodgkiss-who will be remembered by many, I am sure, as an excellent guitarist who played with Stephane Grappelli in the mid-40s and also knew Reinhardt personally. Allan is now not only a teacher of guitar, but also an authority on modern art, and he stresses the importance of form, whether musically or in art and asserts that any great performance is so complete in its form that any addition would certainly be superfluous; and taking anything out would give a sense of imbalance. He also spoke of the necessity of self expression in the arts; the completeness of an artistic person’s development has to embrace many of its aspects and therefore the inter-relation of the art forms should be experienced and understood by the musician if he wants to mature. Alan held art classes in which he encouraged well known musicians to express themselves through painting, and it is becoming apparent that this other stimulant is having advantageous results on their musical performance, too! January 31, 1946 Swing, London
Django Reinhardt & The Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stéphane Grappelli
Stéphane Grappelli (v); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Jack Llewellyn, Allan Hodgkiss/Hodgkins (g); Coleridge Goode (b)
Coquette, Django’s Tiger, Embraceable You, Echoes Of France,
February 1, 1946 ~ Decca, London
Quintet of Hot Club of France
Stéphane Grappelli (v); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Jack Llewellyn, Allan Hodgkiss/Hodgkins (guitars); Coleridge Goode (bass)
Love’s Melody, Belleville, Nuages, Nuages(2), Liza (All The Clouds’ll Roll Away)
I Meet Reinhardt – By Sam Adams (BMG) – DJANGO REINHARDT in England
31st January & 1st February in 1946 will live long in my memory, for on those 2 days I attended in London 2 Recording Sessions of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and spent about 9 hours in the Company of one of the greatest creative Artists the Jazz World has ever known. For these Sessions, the Instrumentation was the same as the original Quintet: in addition to Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli, there was Jack Llewellyn & Allan Hodgkiss on Guitars & Jamaican Coleridge Goode, on Bass. The 1st session (which I attended, by kind permission of Walter Moody, Recording Manager of the EMI Group of companies) was for the French “Swing” Label and the titles waxed were “Embraceable You,” “Coquette,” “Tiger Rag” & the “Marseillaise.” (Abbey Road Studios)
The 2nd Session was for the Decca Label and the sides waxed to be issued in this Country. The titles were: “Love’s Melody,” “Belville,” “Nuages” & “Liza,” the 1st 3 being Django’s own Compositions. Famous French Jazz Authority, Charles Delauney, was responsible for bringing Reinhardt to England and kindly acted as Interpreter whilst I held a series of conversations with the maestro. “Could you get Strings, etc., during the occupation?” I asked. Reinhardt shrugged and giving an enigmatical smile, replied, “Yes, I could get strings!” Apparently other Guitarists were not so fortunate. “How did the Germans treat you?” was my next question. Through the ever-present Delauney, Django explained how the Germans had asked him to play in Berlin, but he had quoted and impossible fee, which they refused to pay. When they grew more insistent and hinted at compulsion, he disappeared & wandered the French Countryside carrying only his Guitar. He returned to Paris months later.
I then asked him for his views on the electrically-amplified Guitar. Yes! He had played the Electric Guitar for a few weeks, but did not like it as it would not reproduce what he described as the “human tone”. Yes, he did listen to other Guitarists and liked Bunn & Christian. His own favourite Musicians were Duke Ellington & Louis Armstrong. His main interest nowadays was in Classical Music, especially the modern Composers. I then handed him a copy of the “Reinhardt Discography,” and, as he turned the pages, memories were obviously evoked, for he smiled sadly as he remembered the happy times in the Recording Studios before the War.
I then examined his battered Guitar. Django told me he had it 8 years. It certainly showed signs of wear and little of its original polish remained. The Strings were extremely light Gauge and when I played a few Chords I was amazed at the lowness of the Action. The Plectrum Django uses is the usual pear-shaped pick, of medium size, extremely thick and with a heavy bevel. The Case in which Reinhardt carries his Guitar is sadly knocked about. The original handle is missing and is replaced by a piece of wire. What covering the Case formerly possessed has long disappeared. Django shrugged expressively when he saw me looking at the case. “Cest la guerre,” he said. Incidentally, he had not brought any spare Strings with him and when one snapped during the “run through,” Jack Llewellyn came to the rescue.
About his future plans he would say nothing. Delauney explained that Django’s movements were unpredictable, for if his fancy dictated he might suddenly decide to return to France and forget all about the proposed Tour of England. Without any request from me, Reinhardt suddenly produced a fine Studio Portrait of himself and laboriously wrote my name on it and Autographed it for me. As he handed me the picture and shook my hand, my feelings were indescribable. But I was to experience more ecstatic moments later when the Recording Session was well underway. It is impossible to put into words the thrill of hearing Reinhardt playing “in the Flesh.” Under ideal Studio conditions, with just 2 or 3 people present, apart from the accompanying Musicians, Reinhardt was completely relaxed and I was able to observe him in many moods. Between numbers he would rhapsodise on his Guitar, or whistle softly to his own accompaniment to illustrate a point to the Band.
Playing From the Soul
Completely lost to his surroundings, Django puts his very Soul into his playing. Again & again he goes through a number until the Final Master has been committed to Wax to everyone’s satisfaction. He then relaxes in his chair – beads of perspiration on his brow – and strums thick harmonies to himself, a smile spreading across his face as he notices the awestruck look on the faces of the rest of the Band. Well, all good things must come to an end, and, too soon for me, the final number was consigned to Wax. The time had come for me to bid a reluctant ‘au revoir‘ to Django Reinhardt, leaving me with a memory of a wonderful experience.
Acknowledment to Phil Jones for his offer of this March 1946 BMG article – http://www.bebops.co.uk
Nuage Takes 1 & 2 at Decca Studios
Django & Stephane were reunited in London in February of 1946 and recorded 8 titles together which included the joyful Echoes of France as well as Nuages. Delaunay’s original Discography listed only 1 take of Nuages but it later became known that 2-Takes were Recorded. The Sleeve notes of London CD 820 591-2 show that Take-1 was issued in September 1947 backed with Loves Melody but that Take-2 was not issued until February 1964 on a Decca LP ACL1158. Grappelli seemingly was as uneasy with the introduction as Rostaing had been in 1940 and on both the Decca LP & the London CD the intro was omitted (Take-2). Daniel Nevers, in his Sleeve notes to Fremaux FA13, states that Take-2 was issued on the original 78rpm but that Take-1 was issued, probably by mistake, on a few records. However, it is the Music that counts and what we have here is the opportunity to hear Django on consecutive takes of the same Melody. Legendary Players such as he never disappoint! We are treated to 2 completely different & extraordinary Solos showing that Django & Stephane had the ability to bring out the best in each other whenever they recorded together. On Take-1 Django begins his Solo with one of his show-stopping phrases followed by a run which starts low down on the 6th-string and ends high on the 1st. Someone once asked Django to demonstrate this and after a few attempts to figure out what happened in between, could only be certain that Something happened, but he knew not what! Django goes on to construct the most delicate of Solos suitable for this Melody. The rest of the Track is standard arrangement and Stephane does not Solo. The Solo to Take-2 begins, similar to the December 1940 version, in harmonics. The remainder of the solo is just as delicate & beautiful as Take-1, but completely different. The genius that was Django. – Dave Gould
Django was rushed to the French Hospital in ‘London‘ (but which one) for treatment on a recurring Throat problem. Numerous Concerts & BBC Radio appearances are then cancelled. – Here seen in bed – Grappelli & Beryl Davis attend. The French Hospital in Victoria Park, Hackney, was found a new home after being requisitioned and damaged during the War. Django was no Huguenot or Protestant but clearly a celebrity.
The French Hospital,
41 La Providence,
Kent ME1 1NB
1946 ‘English’ Quintette
The post-war Belleville from the Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France so-called, features only the principals from the pre-War aggregation – Stephane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt.
It says much for the London based musicians present on this session; Jack Llewellyn and Alan Hodgkins (or Hodgkiss), Rhythm Guitars & Jamaican Coleridge Goode on Bass, that they were able to blend in so well.
This was almost the last QHCF recording in ‘the great tradition’ – the following year saw Django Reinhardt favouring the use of Electric Guitar and (very competently) absorbing the Bop Idiom along the way