Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Warlop


Violinist Michel Warlop was born on this day in 1911 in Douai, France.

Trained as a classical soloist, Warlop took up jazz instead, influenced by the black music served up in Montmartre clubs. In 1930, he joined the Gregorians, a French big band featuring Stephane Grappelli (who gave up his violin spot when Warlop arrived to play piano with the band) and played with them on and off during the early 1930s. By 1936, he had more or less forsaken big bands to front small combos, playing with Django Reinhardt, among others.

Warlop was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1940, but his mental and physical health was seen as fragile and he was soon released. Shortly thereafter he formed his String Septuor, considered along with Reinhardt's Hot Club of France Quintet as one of the most original French groups of the time, playing Warlop's hybrid, Debussy-esque symphonic jazz compositions such as "Harmoniques" and "Nandette." As for Warlop's playing style, some say his nervous, edgy playing reflected his tragically skittish psyche. For a good sample of his work, try Modernistic, a selection of tunes from 1933 to 1943 on the Epm Musique label.

Warlop died on March 6, 1947.

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