Stephane Grappelli | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Stephane Grappelli

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Most people have never been able to play any instrument at any age like Stephane Grappelli plays the violin--one of the hardest instruments--at the age of 83. But Grappelli's age is not really an issue here (except maybe to gerontologists and archivists) What counts is that he has somehow managed to retain the heavily filigreed technique, the quietly insistent rhythmic bounce, and the sound, as light and full as a vintage chardonnay, that appears on his earliest records from the 1930s. Recorded with his musical soulmate, guitarist Django Reinhardt, these documents--the first-great European jazz recordings till stand among the most musically vibrant examples of chamber jazz. For sheer chops, Grappelli is the finest jazz violinist ever, and his trademark leaps into the instrument's harmonics range stiff send shivers; most people seem content with the surface shimmer of his tone and the gentle pulse of his swing-era rhythms, and there's more than enough of that to satisfy all but the most committed modernists. Grappelli's quartet headlines a show that includes mandolinist David Grisman's band. Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 559-1212 or 929-5959.

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