J’ Attendrai

     Images of 1930’s Paris carries the romance of all that is special regarding that great city and nowhere is it more identifiable than the associated music of that time and place.  The city was the home of many cabarets and musical talents that created a distinct Parisian sound from the glamour of the streets, the influences of American swing jazz, and the living cadences of folk melody and sentimentality.   King of the Parisian sound was the jazz swing group “Quintette du Hot Club du France” led by guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grapelli.  Reinhardt in particular created a unique technique for the guitar borne out of a tragedy.  His left hand was severely burned in a house fire at age 18 and Django had to relearn to play the guitar with the use of just two fingers on the fret hand.  the style became a melody driven punctual sound that seamlessly fell right into the swing sound of Grapelli’s violin musings.  The sentimentality of  the time unconsciously predated the emotional sense of loss created by the chaos and uprooting of World War II and makes the music seem even more poignant.  The few of us lived it, the culture has placed on a pedestal that special time of pre-war Paris into a time of  sophistication, class, and civilized interaction that we all wish were recreated in tody’s more pessimistic world.  The song “J’Attendrai”(I shall return) captures perfectly all the elements of the time, whether through Reinhardt and Grapelli’s swing version or Tino Rossi’s wistful beauty and takes us back to the left bank cafe’ where we can imagine ourselves living the moment and thinking, life is good, and living grand.

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