Ravel and French Jazz

Three choices today look at the influence of French jazz from the 1920’s and 30’s.

Ravel: Violin Sonata No. 2, second movement (Blues, Moderato)

Maurice Ravel completed his Second Violin Sonata in 1927. The second movement, based on blues rhythms, reframes the jazz that Ravel was hearing in Paris cafés at the time. In this recording the sonata is played by two excellent young French musicians.

Performed by Renaud Capuçon (violin) and Frank Braley (piano) (5 minutes)

I Got Rhythm

This recording from 1935 features two of the greatest French jazz artists. Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli performed together starting in the mid-1930’s, making many recordings that we are fortunate to have. They were both too young to have influenced Ravel’s violin sonata, but what we hear in this performance is not far removed from the jazz that Ravel would have heard in the 1920’s.

Performed by Stéphane Grappelli (violin), Django Reinhardt (guitar), Joseph Reinhardt (guitar), Pierre Ferret (guitar), and Louis Vola (bass) (3 minutes)

If I Had You

From 1975, the mature Grappelli joins two great masters of jazz–Oscar Peterson and Kenny Clarke–and a young Danish bassist who was making his own indelible mark.

Performed by Oscar Peterson (piano), Stéphane Grappelli (violin), Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums) (7 minutes)

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