Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli, Tea For Two (1978)
My mum bought a CD of Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli playing Gershwin tunes. I was about 14 I guess. I loved it. Instantly. It had me spellbound. The weave of their violins, the way their sound danced in and out around the bass, piano and drums. I just loved it. I then found Grappelli’s playing when I got hooked – around the same time – on Django Reinhardt. And I bought some Yehudi Menuhin – both his jazz and classical playing. I am not sure when I got hold of this album but I love it. And I’ve thrashed it and I still come back for more. You know, me and two very good friends had tickets to see Stephane Grappelli some years ago. I think I’d just turned 21 or was about to turn 21 (it was in that year). Grappelli was in a wheelchair – he was 90-ish. Within months of that gig he would be dead. A news story. But that night we were spellbound. We were blown away by his violin playing – and the bit in the show where the fiddle was taken from him and he looked hurt and lost. He was baffled. The guitarist signalled that he would take him to the piano to play and wheeled him over. He then played some glorious solo piano – beautiful. Just beautiful. Earlier in the day, before the gig, we had decided to get on the piss. Well, why not. So we drank some beers – lots actually. Me and my mate who was coming to the gig. Then, later, our other friend came to collect us. She pretty much laughed at how hammered we were and how we then had to go to this gig. Stephane Grappelli. We were fans. We had told her it would be something. She was probably thinking that only she would remember it. The opening act was a local chamber quartet. I remember my mate leaned behind him and tried to engage with some classical snob that was sitting behind him. She had a nose that was shaped to suggest someone was always holding a turd under it. Then my mate goes, apropos of nothing, “that was bloody good yeah? I really like chamber music. Do you?” Well that’s what he thinks he said anyway. It probably came out more like “ghghshdhgsoguhgsgdpshgshgsguhsghsgdsl”. I had been drinking all afternoon. But I will never forget the look on that woman’s face. It was as if my mate had just asked her if she minded that he had very recently shat in her handbag. (And might be looking to do it again sometime soon and was she cool with that). That gig was fantastic. This record is lovely. I think about both often. And always I see that upturned snob-nose. And my mate’s drunken-goof face. A shrug of the shoulders, as if to say look lady, I know this shit. I dig the hell out of this music, yo. Like that would have made the situation any better.
Sample Track: Tea For Two
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