The Bayou, a club normally known for its high-energy rock shows, was transformed last night into a saucy Parisian nightspot when Stephane Grappelli took to the stage. Grappelli, a master jazz violinist, was a leader of European "Hot Jazz" in the 1930s, and his music hasn't cooled off one bit in the intervening years.
As the jumpy rhythms and bittersweet melodies were played, heads began bouncing and fingers started snapping. Grappelli and his three-piece group romped through songs like Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" and "As Time Goes By" from the movie "Casablanca," taking the familiar tunes and stretching them into lusty jazz solos.
His violin slid in and out of the melodies, stopped short, then scurried up the scale and ended with tingling vibratos. Lead guitarist John Etheridge followed the theme lines, adding fleeting, blues-tinged solos while rhythm guitarist Martin Taylor and bassist Brian Torf kept up a furious accompaniment.
Stephane Grappelli is a truly ageless musician. His warm tone and exuberant style brought new life to the old songs, and the sold-out crowd applauded and shouted support the way their counterparts must have done at the Hot Club of France 30 years ago. Hot jazz isn't just alive and well. With Stephane Grappelli, it is sizzling!