Django in UK 1938

Django’s UK Itinerary 1938 – Aged 28

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DeccaStudio

The HCQ recording at the Decca studios, London January 1938. Django is raised up on high chair showing his favoured footwear to project the Guitar sounds into the central main studio Microphone.  Naguine is shaded out for the tinted CD Cover
Roger Chaput, Naguine, Django, Eugène Vées, Stéphane Grappelli, Louis Vola – bass

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Note that Naguine has been blacked out on this Record Sleeve

January 31, 1938 ~ Decca, London
Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stéphane Grappelli
Stéphane Grappelli (v); Djanqo Reinhardt (g solo); Roger Chaput, Eugène Vées (g); Louis Vola (b)
Honeysuckle Rose, Sweet Georgia Brown, Night And Day, My Sweet, Souvenirs, Daphne, Black And White,  Stompin’ At Decca

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Stephane Grappelli, Eugene “Ninnie” Vees, Django Reinhardt, Joseph “Nin-Nin” Reinhardt, Roger Grasset
Chaput
and Vola are also mentioned as present for these dates so the Melody Make picture may be wrong or from 1939?

Cambridge Theatre
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The HCQ has its 1st performance in the UK at the Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, London WC2 on 30th January.(2.30pm).  This concert was organised by the “Melody Maker” and also had an unknown George Shearing in Clive Bampton’s Blind Band. The HCQ was a major success which prompted Lew Grade to organise a UK tour later the same year.  The concert was a sell-out. Django spent his days in bed in his hotel (Not equipped for English Weather), varying this a bit with visits to a local amusement arcade where he won packet after packet of cigarettes with his usual ease.  The band returned to France, and in February 1939 toured Scandinavia which involved travelling through Germany.

Chappie D’Amato was a very average band guitarist. He played a variety of instruments competently but not exceptionally well.  He subsequently became better known as a compere and broadcaster. He was, of course, the compere of the 1938 “Melody Maker” Cambridge Theatre concert where the Hot Club Quintet topped the bill with the Mills Brothers on its 1st visit to the UK.

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Britain’s Leading Radio Station was the Light Programme – 1938
Stephane Grappelli, Eugene “Ninnie” Vees, Django Reinhardt, Joseph “Nin-Nin” Reinhardt, Roger ‘Toto’ Grasset Bass

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Front cover of the Cambridge Theatre Concert organised by the “Melody Maker” (1938).
The picture is the Cambridge Theatre when it was first built in 1930.  It would have been exactly the same when Django played there.

Carlo Krahmer was born in Shoreditch, London in 1914 and from an early age was ‘drum crazy’ spending his pocket money on drums and records and he was gigging at 13 years of age. By 1938 he was playing with Claude Bampton’s Blind Orchestra which included George Shearing, sponsored by The National Institute for the Blind, at the Cambridge Theatre on the same bill as Quintette of the Hot Club of France. He was active in the recording studios from this time:  Carlo went on to form the Band in the Nuthouse Club in Regent Street which Django also played.

Jazz Hot (Filmed in Great Britain / 1938)- The story has it that Django Reinhardt was never filmed with synchronized sound and picture (only a few silent images could be seen very quickly in the newsreels). This film, unknown to the historians, is a great event : we can see Django Reinhardt, the master of the guitar, playing in his intimacy or on stage, with Stéphane Grappelli and other musicians during the top level period of the Hot Club de France Quintet, around 1938.

  • It is described in Volume 8 of Frémaux & Associés (Intégrale Django Reinhardt).
  • Exact context of this movie is unknown. It could have been filmed as a promotional movie for an upcoming QHCF UK Tour.
  • The bass player is unknown.
  • According to Charles Delaunay there was 2 other songs in this movie.

April 22, 1938 ~ Broadcast for the BBC, from Paris
Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stéphane Grappelli
Stéphane Grappelli (v); Django Reinhardt (g solo); Joseph Reinhardt, Eugène Vées (g); Roger Grasset (b)
Daphne, Djangology

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10th July 1938 – The Gig Club,
Bourne Hall/Fishmongers Arms, Wood Green

Where Django gigged and also awarded a ‘Cup‘ to the winner of a Manouche Swing Quartet competition as he was about to play a week at the Wood Green Empire.  Now could this would have been the Wood Green Jazz Club at the then ‘Fishmongers’ Arms’ – run by Viv and Art Sanders.
287 High Rd, Wood Green, London, N22 8HU (now converted to a block of flats.)  With regards to the the Django  presentation  at the Gig Club, maybe this could have been put on by members of the Musicians Union North London Branch?  The MU in 1959 used to have meetings over at Bush Hill Park, not far from Wood Green. Lots of the members then were of pre-WW2 vintage and they would have been keen to meet Django.

The Cup and its Winners

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The cup is engraved –

Reinhardt – Grappelly
Cup
10-7-38
Presented by the Gig Club
H Lloyd’s
Quartette
B Kirby R Bateman C Baily

Photographs of the cup my father won on the 10th July 1938 for the best Quartet!  His name was Harry Lloyd and he was an ardent follower of Django.  Our dog was even called Django!  It was a shame really that he didn’t go professional, although he did play semi professionally all his life in bands in the South East.  My father’s Quartette won the competition and judged by Django and Stephan Grappelli as nearest to their own groups sound and Django actually presented the cup and also gave Dad his autograph at that time. The name on the cup is H Lloyd’s Quartette. (I have this cup displayed in my study). I remember B. Kirby when I was a child and he did live near here in Tadworth, Surrey. He played violin, but I knew him as Ron Kirby. As far as I know the competition would have been Countrywide.  The guitar he played then was given by him to my brother in law.  The Gibson guitar he used since 1963, which he purchased new, is actually going to Auction with Bromptons in Mayfair, London, in early December 2012. It was estimated to reach £15 to £20,000.  When I was a child I remember Dad teaching several young men how to play Django’s music on their guitars. They would fill the house on their jamming sessions!  He taught himself how to play and inherited his love of music from his father, who played classical piano, again self taught.

Sadly Dad died last year at the grand old age of 96 but never lost his love of the guitar.  Dad also won 2 medals from the Melody Maker in 1948.  I still have one of them but the other one mysteriously went missing when he became very elderly.    I also have Django’s autograph from the 1938 gig.  I believe Django was illiterate but Dad had kept that scrap of paper all those years.
Sheila V

I worked at Wood Green Jazz Club from about 1962 to 1968-ish.
I helped Viv and Art run the club, cleaned up, picked up glasses, repaired their car and hopefully advised on bands and helped with bookings. I know I am a bit later than the period you are looking for but it was a fantastic club and allegedly the oldest ‘hot rhythm’ club in the UK, with posters advertising appearances by Django Reinhardt and many others.  – John Cox

FishmongersArms

The building is still there and the tiled facade at the bottom and the general exterior seems to have been preserved, including the name Fishmongers Arms at the top of the building. Much of the ground floor is now occupied by Police Station offices, and as one of our correspondents says, the rest of the building has been turned into flats accessed by a small door to the far left.

Tony Milliner remembers the two doors to the left of the building being those the bands used to take in their gear, and to go into Bourne Hall.  Bourne Hall was part of the Fishmongers Arms, but a separate room at the back of the building, says Tony. Our second picture shows that something was once attached to the side but has since been removed to build new houses.

Trumpeter Bunny Austin  – The Bourne Hall was a wooden hall attached to the Fishmongers Arms. The Fishmongers pub was on the corner of Trinity Road and Wood Green High Road. This hall became the Wood Green Jazz Club run by Art and Vi Sanders circa 1947-8, but the Bourne Hall was used as a local dance hall during the 1920s. I know this is correct because in 1950 I played in a band with pianist Les Stanford, born in 1902, and Les told me he played in the Bourne Hall during the 1920s and 30s. The Bourne Hall became a favourite venue for the first Alex Welch band, but before he played there Art Sanders booked the Dutch Swing College band about 1949 and Joe Daniels jazz band around 1951 with Dave Shepherd, Alan Wickham, Nevil Skrimshire, etc.

Freddy Randall at Wood Green 1964

Clarinettist Alvin Roy recalls:- Bourne Hall was indeed where Wood Green Jazz Club was situated. Bourne Hall was attached to the Fishmongers Arms and as you entered the doorway, you turned left and walked a short distance down a corridor to enter the club. If you turned right you went into the pub, which had its main entrance facing the High Road (Green Lanes). Art Sanders was usually stationed in the corridor at the entrance of the club ready to have a friendly chat as he took your money. The Fishmongers is still there, but Bourne Hall is now flats and part of our youthful memories has gone … sad but inevitable.

Mike Durell agrees:  Regarding Bourne Hall and Wood Green, it was part of the Fishmongers Arms pub (at the rear of the pub). I played there many times.

Richard White also writes from south-east Asia: – I am writing in response to your query about the “Bourne Hall” in the Wood Green area.  I do not have access to any written records, but I was a denizen of Wood Green Jazz Club and the Fishmongers Arms from approximately 1960 to 1970.   For a few years I had a flat within walking distance and I am sure that I can recall the name of the hall behind the “Fish” being Bourne Hall. I was sorry to read that it is now a block of flats. I have so many more than fond memories of  Art and Viv and all the great bands and musicians I saw at Wood Green Jazz Club.

Tony Milliner also remembers a notice put up for a gig with the Alex Welch band featuring George Melly. It advertised: ‘Belch and Belly’!

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(Django Circa 1938)
Django @ Bourne Hall Information provided in collaboration with contributors to Sandy Brown Jazz

11th July: Empire Theatre, Wood Green for a Week

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The Wood Green Empire had been opened by impresario Oswald Stoll on 9 September 1912, with a capacity of 1840 and a stage 54’ wide by 37’ deep.  It was on this very stage, in March 1918, that the ‘Chinese’ magician Chung Ling Soo (real name William Robinson) received a fatal injury while performing his (in)famous trick of catching a bullet between his teeth.  Now that would have spooked our Django

18th July: Trocadero, Elephant & Castle for a Week.

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Buddy Holly also performed there with the Crickets 20 years later on 1/03/58

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The auditorium was designed in a magnificent ornate French Renaissance style, with colours of soft chocolate and old rose, with features being emphasised in gilt. The side walls had a series of draped alcoves which were curved inwards to meet the ceiling and interspersed with Roman Eagles displaying outstretched wings.  The ceiling had a large circular dome, illuminated in dark turquoise and surrounded by a ring of large octagonal medallions. Seating was provided on stalls and circle levels. There was a large fully equipped stage, with dressing rooms and the cinema was equipped with a Wurlitzer 4 Manual/21 Rank organ which was opened by Quentin Maclean.  The opening night was almost a disaster, as the crowd assembled outside the building, London was experiencing a dense black London ‘pea-souper‘ fog. As the 3,500 capacity audience entered via the the theatres 2 entrances, in rolled the fog, filling the auditorium, which made seeing the screen virtually impossible except for those sitting in the front rows of the stalls.  Even the operator in the projection box had difficulties and was supplied with field glasses. Towards the end of the evening the fog cleared.

25th July: Empire Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush for a Week

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I promised you a Django anecdote –
way back in 1938, my Dad, Frank Selwyn, lived in Ilford and Django was due to appear at the Shepherds Bush Empire.  My Dad was 13 at the time.  He and his cousins only had enough money either for the fare across London or to get in and see Django.  So they walked 12 miles from Ilford – paid to see Django – and then walked back again.  It was a story told and retold in my family and Django had a major influence in my formative years.  Best wishes, Esmond Selwyn – Guitarist

8th August Metropolitan Theatre, London for a week.

Metropolitan
267 Edgware Road –  The Theatre was to survive until 1963 when on Good Friday, April 12th, the curtain came down for the last time and the Theatre was closed for its subsequent demolition. However, after the Theatre closed it was used by the English movie producer Richard Gordon for the filming of the Theatre scenes in the now cult horror film ‘Devil Doll’ which was made in early 1963 and released in 1964. The Theatre’s dressing rooms and the stage are seen throughout the movie.  Demolished for the A40 flyover which was opened bizarrely by the busty Jayne Mansfield.

15th August: Empire Theatre, Glasgow for a week

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Duke Ellington Orchestra
were in Glasgow (June 1933). At the 1st matinee they started up with ‘Three Little Words’, and Ivy Anderson sang ‘Stormy Weather’. Glasgow was recognised as a centre for hot jazz, and a good starting place for major tours,  The Glasgow Empire Theatre was built on the site of the earlier 1874 Gaiety Theatre which was demolished to make way for the Empire in 1897.  The Empire Palace Theatre, as it was 1st known, was built at the corner of West Nile Street and Sauchiehall Street. The Theatre opened in 1897 and had a seating capacity of 1,676 with 182 standing. The Empire closed in 1930 for major alterations when it was enlarged and refurbished and the auditorium was radically altered. The Theatre was also extended to the corner of Renfield Street and its reopening was in 1931.  The Theatre closed at the end of March 1963 and was subsequently demolished.

22nd August: New Empress Theatre, Brixton for a week

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Opened on Boxing Day, 1898, this impressive theatre/music hall stood on the corner of Brighton Terrace and Bernay’s Grove, offering popular variety shows (and pantomimes at Christmas). A sizeable venue, the Empress Theatre offered seating capacity of 1,260 with a stage width of 60′ and a depth of 40′. In 1909 Bioscope described the Empress as ‘one of the finest of London’s suburban music halls’. Over the years, the building would be variously described as the Empress Theatre, Empress Theatre of Varieties, Empress Music Hall and Granada Cinema. The theatre was demolished and replaced with a housing development in 1992.  Bert Niblett attended this concert series and waited stage door for Django and Stephane’s Autographs

30th August: Decca Studios,
165 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London
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This building is now a rehearsal space for English National Opera.  From 1920 until 1980, however, it was owned by Decca Records and used as a recording studio by orchestras, West End shows and the big bands that provided the pop music of the day. Nothing remains of the recording equipment, but the internal layout of the building is still intact.  Two large halls dominate the interior, and down the back stairs, at the end of a low corridor, stands the heavy, soundproofed door that still bears its nameplate from the Decca days: Studio Two.

DeccaStudio

Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stéphane Grappelli
Stéphane Grapelli (v); Django Reinhart (g solo); Joseph Reinhardt, Eugène Vées (g); Roger Grasset(b)
The Flat Foot Floogie, Lambeth Walk, Why Shouldn’t I ?,
September 1, 1938 ~ London
Django Reinhardt (g solo)
acc. by Stéphane Grapelli (p)
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm -1, I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm -2, Please Be Kind,

10th September, 1938 ~ London
Django Reinhardt (g solo)
acc. by Stéphane Grapelli (piano)
Louise
Django Reinhardt (g solo)
Improvisation #2 (Part 1), Improvisation #2 (Part 2)

5th September:
Palladium Theatre, London

PalladiumTopping the bill with Tom Mix and his horse.  The theatre started out as The Palladium, a premier venue for variety performances. It is especially linked to the Royal Variety Performances, where many were, and still are, held. From 1928 it was managed by George Black and was even a cinema for 3 months.  During the 1930s became the regular home for The Crazy Gang. The ‘London’ part of the name was added in 1934. Black controlled the large Moss Empires group of theatres. Responsible for bookings at the London Palladium was Val Parnell. Reinhardt was difficult in other ways. In London, he failed to show up for a performance at the Palladium.

He also got upset when accompanists played a wrong note. “Especially annoying to him was a wrong note in the bass clef,” Grappelli told an interviewer. “To him, a wrong bass note was an insult and he was often so rude to the bass player that they would leave, and so I was obliged many times to look for new bass players,” Grappelli said.

12th September: Chiswick Empire Theatre, for a Week

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It is then unclear exactly where the Quintet performed until its return to France at the end of October.  They certainly returned to the Ardwick Hippodrome for a few days. Circa 4th July 1948.

Django in Manchester

LewGradeThe Collins and Grade Agency provided Lew Grade  with access to all the managements who up till then wouldn’t have even given him the time of day. His reputation as a spotter and provider of quality acts grew and grew, and he was fast making a name for himself.  On a business trip to Paris, Lew saw what he described as a “fantastic group” called ‘The Quintet de Hot Club de France’, whose stars were Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. He returned to England and immediately booked the duo as major ‘headliners’. Reinhardt and Grappelli proved so successful that Joe and Lew decided it was time to stage their own programmes. Then in September 1939, Europe went to war and the future of the theatre circuit was thrown into doubt. Collins and Grade, who had built up a reputation providing quality acts from the Continent, perhaps had more to fear than most, but they adapted to the situation and managed to keep their heads above water. As the War dragged on Lew was employed by the War Office to provide entertainment for the Troops.  It’s an ill wind…………

When British impresario Lew Grade first heard QHCF he remarked, “When I heard Stephane play, it was a revelation to me…Django Reinhardt of course absolutely shocked me. There was no doubt in my mind he was the best guitarist in the world…together they were a remarkable team.” Lew immediately offered them a tour of England. A contract was written up and Stephane acted as the businessman for the band. Before meeting with Lew, Stephane and Django agreed that Steph would read over the contract first and then hand it to Django, who was illiterate, but would pretend to read and accept the contract. During an interview with Paul Balmer, Stephane recalls the story and tells how Django randomly pointed to a statement in the contract and blurted out, “This is not acceptable!” He was pointing to the part that covered all their travel in 1st class accommodations. Stephane quickly told Django under his breath to “be quiet you idiot!” All went well and they were booked as the headliner in England and according to Lew Grade were “an absolute sensation”