I've been waiting for a Bianchi CD issue for over 5 years and I finally picked up this two CD set and I'm floored. It is positively criminal that someone of such incredible talent could lie literally unknown for so long.
As my pal Teddy D. is quick to point out, Bianchi was "the ultimate chameleon player" who could sound like just about anyone. On the acoustic sides that I've heard, it's easy to hear how he could've passed for Django. This set, focused entirely on his electric output features Bianchi playing Bianchi and the playing is flawless. The sound is sort of similar to the electric recordings of the 1950's by both American and French guitarists, only with the exception of American neoboppers like Tal, Kessel and Raney, a step above everything else - including Henri Crolla. Simply put, he had all the ability (including the use of ALL of his fingers) that Django did, but lacked the accents that both Crolla and Django had. It's not to say that Bianchi wasn't as talented as his American counterparts, he was simply making commercial music and was therefore fairly restricted. These recordings are ensemble pieces, so he is given a chord or two (including intros and outros) and that's about it. Still, if you listen to the wild run right before the piano solo on "Begin The Beguine" it more than elludes to this man's ability.
The first two tracks immediately blew me away, the electric guitar with it's killer '50's, meaty tone and some amazing violin solos just set the stage for what is so far a wonderfully enjoyable listen. This isn't really Gypsy Jazz (thank god for that!), this is simply great guitar music (both jazz and '50's popular) with stellar musicianship all around.
For those of you who are asking "Who is Marcel Bianchi?", I'll tell you. He was born in Marseille in 1911, and recorded a little with Django as a rhythm guitarist and apparent fill-in at times (incidently, a well respected friend swears that this incarnation of the Hot Club with Bianchi is the best). After WWII he decided to kick his shit in the Riviera, where he played in the posh hotels along the Cote d'Azure and on cruise ships. Had he stayed in Paris, or perhaps took the route of an "artist" as opposed to a popular performer I guarentee he would've been as heralded as Rene Thomas or Elek Bacsik.
Unfortunately I've been unable to find soundclips at the usual sources. Perhaps Michael (when he gets back) will post a few MP3 clips. Trust me guys, this is killer stuff!