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Marcel Bianchi - Bad Mother F'er

Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
edited June 2005 in CD, DVD, and Concert Reviews Posts: 614
Hey All,

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!

Best,

Ted

Comments

  • BarengeroBarengero Auda CityProdigy
    Posts: 527
    Hi Ted,

    thank you very much for your great posting.

    There is a short soundclip of "Begin the Beguine" on the "Djangostation" site:

    http://www.djangostation.com/article.ph ... rticle=224

    Best,
    Barengero
  • BarengeroBarengero Auda CityProdigy
    Posts: 527
    When France got occupied by the germans in 1942, Marcel Bianchi went to Switzerland. He played there in the orchestra of Jerry Thomas. In 1945 he went back to France. He was one of the first players that used an electric guitar.

    He founded a sextet then (with Noel chiboust, tp, ts) and played in the "Carriére", "Drap d´or", the "Sporting" and in the "Café de Paris" in Monte Carlo. Every year he went for several month to Kairo and Beirut. In 1951 the sextet came to an end. From then on Marcel played solo in the "Boeuf sur le toit", with Hubert Rostaing in the radio. In 1952 he made a radio concert with Dizzy Gillespie.

    In 1954 he made recordings with Bing Crosby in Paris, together with Lucien Simoens (b), Michel Legrand (p) and Roger Paraboschi (dm).

    In the late 50´s and the 60´he travelled very much and worked on passenger ships 4 - 6 months a year.

    Later he made a more and more of "Hawaian" stuff ("Marcel Bianchi et ses Hawaian Beachbombers"; Marcel Bianchi et les Hawaian Troubadours").

    Best,

    Barengero
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Posts: 614
    Thanks for those updates!

    I should also note. Marcel was (according to the liner notes) influenced by Les Paul, which you can hear in his playing. His tone, everything sounds like 1940's/1950's Les Paul (and at times reminiscent of players like Jimmy Bryant).

    Yes, he did play Hawaiian style guitar, but none of that material is contained in this set. It's all jazz, or latin influenced tunes, and is all spectacular.

    Best,

    Ted
  • stublastubla Prodigy Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 386
    Thanks for those updates!

    I should also note. Marcel was (according to the liner notes) influenced by Les Paul, which you can hear in his playing. His tone, everything sounds like 1940's/1950's Les Paul (and at times reminiscent of players like Jimmy Bryant).

    Yes, he did play Hawaiian style guitar, but none of that material is contained in this set. It's all jazz, or latin influenced tunes, and is all spectacular.

    Best,

    Ted

    thanks ted!
    i'm salivating!--i hope to get the bianchi cd and a bundle of other stuff('m a bit behind in my collecting;and even more broke!!) in Samois
    hope to see some of u there.
    Cheers
    Stu
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 511
    I've been looking (without much success) for recordings by Bianchi for years, too. I can't wait to hear this one.

    His story is interesting, too. There were numerous articles and discographies about him in Hot Club News and Quartette 10 or 15 years ago, but I can't translate these. I do have a translation of a biography written by Francois Charle from Trad magazine and I might be able to post it here if anyone is interested.

    He was a terrific guitarist, whatever he played. Back in the 50s, he even won a couple of awards in France that are like our grammys, one of them was for a boogie with Franck Pourcel's orchestra. But I suspect that the reason that he's not well-known today is because many people thought that he rarely gave the full measure of his talent. He took himself out of the jazz world, and so I think the jazz world chose to ignore him, too.

    I agree with Ted. If he'd stayed with jazz, he'd be looked at as a peer of Rene Thomas, etc. Instead, he wound up in kind of the same place George Benson occupies here today - a great guitarist who sort of sold out.

    Best
    Scot
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,164
    scot wrote:
    Instead, he wound up in kind of the same place George Benson occupies here today - a great guitarist who sort of sold out
    There is some nice playing from him on this CD but "sold out" would pretty much sum it up for me.
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