JM-Greats - Henri Crolla

Henri Crolla"Henri" Crolla, was born as Enrico Crolla on February 26st 1920 in Neapel/Italy and died October 17th 1960 in Paris. He was a french Jazz-Guitarist and Filmmusic-Composer.

Originally born in Neapels/Campania (Italy) into a familyof well known neapolitanian musicians, he immigrated with his family in  1922 due to the upcoming fashism system in italy to Port de Choisy in France.

One of his neighbours there was the family of young Django Reinhardt with whom he made friends soon.
Later on Henri Crolla just played some few Live-concerts with Django, but never worked for recording-sessions with him.
Although he made early acquaintance with Jacques Prévert and as well played at young age in the parisian Cafés and Jazzclubs like the La Boîte à Sardines, where also people like Coleman Hawkins was playing sometimes.

The second worldwar broke his carreer, beeing mobilized by the Army in Italy he had to quit playing, thus moving back to Italy. But he deserted from the Army and went back to France. During the waryears he was working in serveral jobs to make a living, just playing few locations as musician. Just in 1946 his french citizenship was confirmed, so he stayed there.

In the 1940/50ies he worked in the french "after war" Jazzscene, for example with people like Stephane Grappelli, André Hodeir, the Bassplayer Emmanuel Soudieux and the Pianist Léo Chauliac as of Singer Yves Montand, which he accompanied from 1947 to 1953 and again playing for him in 1957/58. In 1954/55 he played in the Club Saint Germain with Grappelli and Soudieux.

In 1955 Henri Crolla did first recording-sessions under his own name for the french Label Vèga, together with musicians like Martial Solal, Georges Arvanitas and Soudieux mitwirkten. Besides that Henri Crolla worked as a composer for Filmmusic; together with André Hodeir he wrote music for films of Jean Gabin, Jeanne Moreau and Brigitte Bardot.

Between 1955 and 1958 he was recorsing different kinds of music such as Jazz, Filmmusic and popular music, made concerts with Yves Montand as a tour into the Sowjetunion; in 1956 he had his first apereance in a film as actor/comedian of Grimault and Pierre Prévert. In 1958 he is taking part with the Django Reinhardt-Hommage Notre Ami Django with Grappelli and Hubert Rostaing and some guests worshipping the dead guitarrist. Other actors in this project were Roger Guérin, René Urtreger, Géo Daly, Pierre Lemarchand, Al Levitt, Emmanuel Soudieux and Christian Garros.

The more in 1958 a Film made by Paul Paviot about the "Hommage à Django en 58", in which also Hubert Rostaing, Joseph Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and Crolla were appearing. By his friendship with the family Prévert he was more and more involved in the filmbusiness; by the end of 1958 he had a bigger apearance in a movie of Henri Fabiani (Le bonheur est pour demain). Crolla died at the end of a Tour just at the age of 40 years. (Source: Wikipedia)

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JM-Greats - Louis Vola

LouisVolaLouis Vola was born in La-Seyne-sur-Mer (France) on the 6st of July 1902 as son of an italian shoemaker.

At first starting to play the accordeon of his father, he soon is interested in playing other instruments. Vola was to find at the "Bals Musette" as accompaning musician, but at first finishing his education as a bakerman.
Louis Vola learned to play the bass and became a professional musician. He was one of the first musicians of the legendary Quintett du Hot Club de France.

Very often he has been somewhat like the "peacemaker" between Django Reinhardt und Stephane Grapelli, which argued pretty often.
One of his first engagements where Louis Vola and his band invited the young Django Reinhardt as their Guitarrist was happening at the "Palm Beach Casino" in Cannes about 1932.
But as Django (see Django - private life) was not to show up at gigs very often, rather beeing on the road with his cousins in the provence area, Vola had a hard time with the clubowners pretty often. Nevertheless he instictively knew that Django was somebody special and that he had to take and accept his behavior if wanting to play concerts with him.

At the warbreakout in 1939 Louis Vola played with the "Ray Ventura Orchestra" and, together with some members of the orchestra, he flew to south-america, where he stayed for 8 years in exile.

Finally returning to Paris the music and the scene had changed a lot, leaving him behind without jobs or engagements. After returning to the Cote d´Azur, unsuccessfully tring to lead a restaurant, he joined a russian Restaurant named "Scheherazade", which was en vogue this time. He almost stayed there for more than 30 years.

One of his biggest efforts was the passion for music and the development and mentoring of young Django Reinhardt as his role as catalysator between Reinhardt and Grappelli. Although he made the best from his limited musical ability making the most of it. He was without a doubt an accepted session-musician that made concerts with many famous people. During his years at the  "Scheherazade" he as well played drums and piano.

In the late 1950ies he retired and went to Cachan where he died in August 1990.

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JM-Greats - Marcel Bianchi

MarcelBianchiBaleMarcel Bianchi, born in 1911 into a corsian family in Marseille, began to play guitar at very young age, like many guitarrists in the evnviroment of the legendary "Quintette du Hot Club de France" did.

He first starts at age of 7 playing the Mandolin, changes over to guitar at age of 12. Eventhough never having an official education in music, he is beginning to play in regional groups and bands very soon, making his name as “Le Mascotte”.

In the mid of the 1930ies he is listening to the sound of Django Reinhardt immediately starting to copy his style, and as well in 1937 going to Paris for that reason.
Bianci is able to get the attention of Charles Delaunay while playing at an amateur Jazz-competition. This made him get the job as one of the accompaning rhythm guitarrists of the Quintette du Hot Club de France.

Bianchi recorded three sessions with the Quintette du Hot Club de France in April 1937, his rhythm play on these recordings show his great talent and facets of his musicality at the side of Baro Ferret.

At the beginning of his carreer he is playing Carbonel-guitars (see photo right), later on he is also signing an advertising-contract with the SELMER-company (as the other musicians of the Hotclub Quintette did as well), obliging them to play these instruments on their live-performances. (Source:

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JM-Greats - Etienne Patotte Bousquet

Bousquet Lesdeuxguitares350Etienne Patotte called "Bousquet" (born 1925, †1998) was a french Manouche Guitarrist with corsian roots.

His virtuosity was legendary. Whenever he played he did it on full throttle. There are rumors going round that he once broke all 6 strings of his guitar with one(!) stroke of his pick at a concert...

Bousquet Bousquet JosephR Cardi
Bousquet Bousquet (l.), Joseph Reinhardt (m.), Cardi (r.)

9781961Bousquet, was born in the area of Langedoc-Roussillion in south-France, he played almost everywhere. He guitar-artistry was well known all over from the Camargue up to north-Africa.

His great Album "Hommage à Django" has become one of the standard-Albums in Gypsyjazz.

On the second album "Le deux Guitares" with some songs reminding to ballads of his corsian roots and some electrical played songs he tried to adapt other musical styles.

Here is one of the few tone/video-documents of the playing of this outstanding musician:

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JM-Greats - Tchan-Tchou Vidal

La GitanePaul "Tchan-Tchou" Vidal was born on November 22nd 1923 in Aix-en-Provence, he died †1999. He was a french Manouche Jazz-Guitarrist.

Tschan-Tschous father that used to play very often with Django Reinhardt, founded the "Hot Club de Lyon" together with two other guitarrists in 1940.

In 1966 Paul "Tchan Tchou" Vidal started his first recordings. He also used to play at duetts with Accordionist Tony Fallone. Many years later, around 1960ies, Moreno Winterstein used to play with him for some years in his band and learned of his own sayings " a lot from him".

Paul "Tchan Tchou" Vidal stylistically was playing between Swing, Jazz-Manouche and popular Music of the early 1950-1960ies, improvising over many Jazzstandards, but also Boleros, Tangos or Rumbas.

He composed quite a few tunes that, until today belong into the repertoire of every Gypsyjazz-player, for example the famous Jazz-waltz "La Gitana" or "Les yeux de Dolores". In the french Gypsyjazz-Scene he istill is one of the most respected JazzManouche-Guitarrists, directly behind Django Reinhardt.

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