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Stephane Grappelli: A Life in the Jazz Century

15 customer reviews

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(Jul 01, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

From my private collection. Excellent condition. Fast First Class shipping

Special Features

  • Une Edition 2 DVD:
  • DVD 1 : Stéphane Grappelli raconte sa propre histoire
  • Son apprentissage du violon
  • Son adolescence à Paris
  • Sa rencontre avec Django Reinhardt
  • Sa carrière internationale
  • Ses rencontres
  • DVD 2:
  • Les archives musicales et les bonus (films rares...)
  • De nombreuses surprises

Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2003
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009ATWF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,105 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Rod Saunders on February 14, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I can't say enough about this DVD. Not only do you get to see Grappelli in various photos and film/video clips over a 60 year period playing with the likes of Nigel Kennedy, Martin Taylor, Yehudi Menuhin, Diz Dizley, and Django Reinhardt (supposedly every Django clip known), you also get to see him in a number of settings including a taping of This Is Your Life back in the 70s when his daughter and grandsons joined him on stage.
The documentary begins with the story of his early years and a reinactment of a twelve year old Grappelli playing his student violin in a courtyard in Paris. From there we learn about his earlier career as a silent movie pianist and a pianist/violinist with Gregor and the Gregorians (great accompanying film here). From there we see him meeting up with Django and forming the Hot Club Quintet where they performed for seven years before some of the biggest celebrities of their day and changed jazz forever. Following the story of the breakup of the band prompted by the outbreak of WWII in England, we see the Stephane Grappelli Quintet and are introduced to the surviving octogenarian bassist from that band. Next is the reunion with Django and the story of his untimely death, followed by an account of the lean years for swing music (late 40s and 50s) where Stephane played mostly in restaurants in England and France. The part I truly enjoyed is the story of the rebirth of Grappelli's career after the Cambridge Folk Festival where a whole new generation of jazz and folk music fans discovered his genius and unique musical style. Finally, we see Grappelli's final years where he is still being productive and creative, although his health is obviously declining. (The interviews with Grappelli were recorded a year before his death when he was 88 and quite weak).
Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By FrizzText on June 25, 2005
Format: DVD
1908-1997, at the age of 89 Stéphane Grappelli died - and he has used his full lifetime like nearly no other musician. But I've never seen such an intense DVD-space using as well. It's unbelievable, how many movie-sources the producing team Paul Balmer and Judy Caine found out: The interview with Grappelli (at his last home at 87th Rue de Dunkerque) lasting two hours (not included 1 hour bonus material) is accomponied by authentic movie-sequences. They are bringing us back to the old pre-war time, when Stephane, aged 11, started his career (1920) as a street-musician (together whith an italian-born guitarist) strolling around in his Montmartre-quartier (self-taught, never using notes, only trusting his ears and his talent of staying relaxed and spontaneous). 1923, aged 15, he recieved a job as a silent movie (Buster Keaton) musician. American jazz, arriving at Paris after WWI, inspired Stephane: via radio he learned something about the violin-guitar-duo Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. In a caravan-camp outside of Paris-city he met the gipsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and tried to copy the Venuti/Lang-duo-style - and they made it much better. 1933 they played every afternoon for a tea-time-entertainment in the Claridge-hotel. Not soon after, a label booked "The Quintett du Hot Club de France". 1937 the british theater-manager Lew Grade caught them - and worked with great success about ten years together with the double-genius in England (interrupted by some years, because Django Reinhardt 1939 prefered (WWII) to go home - taking for his own to the continent a brand new, not yet paid limousine of Lew Grade).Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a nearly flawless production. The main feature is a 2-hour documentary on Stephane Grappelli, starting with his birth and including film clips (with sound) from one of his pre-Django gigs. A very interesting film clip of Stephane & Django is also included, as are performances with Yehudi Menuhin, George Shearing, Diz Disley & Martin Taylor. The documentary is held together by interview segments with Grappelli.
The second DVD in the set includes complete versions of some of the performance clips excerpted in the documentary & more commentary from Nigel Kennedy, Menuhin, Martin Taylor and others. There are short pieces on Grappelli's technique and his piano playing (I wish the latter had been expanded). An audio segment includes several complete tracks also excerpted in the documentary. A segment on the making of the documentary shows both what a labor of love it was & some of the digital technology used in its production.
If you love jazz, get this DVD - you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2003
Format: DVD
This is likely the best music DVD I've seen yet. Paul Balmer and Judy Caine should be congratulated mightily for getting down Stephane Grappelli's story while he was still alive. Grappelli was a jazz giant, not only with the Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of The Hot Club of France, but as a solo jazz violin player and tells his story mostly in his own words. The DVD contains the only live clips of Django Reinhardt this reviewer has seen and they look great. Reinhardt has been the biggest influence on lead guitarists in the last century and every lead player today has been influenced by his style, whether they know it or not.
Balmer tried to get this documentary financed by both British and American television, to no avail, which just proves the short-sightedness of mainstream television. To his credit, instead of giving up, Balmer started his own company, Music On Earth, and made first a radio documentary and then this great DVD.
It's jam packed with great footage (like color footage of Grappelli and Teddy Wilson playing on British television and other rare footage of Art Tatum) and runs 2 hours and 8 minutes, which is far better than anything we've seen on TV lately, with the exception of Ken Burn's massive "Jazz" project. In addition they've packed the DVD with extra commentaries, more
footage, complete clips, a CD jukebox, rare photos, a timeline,and more. A must-have for any fan of jazz.
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