I just found this video clip of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. It blew my mind.

First off, check out Django’s left hand. He’s using heavy vibrato any time a note lasts more than a fraction of a second. Also, you can see he retained enough use of his ring and index fingers to make chord shapes down the neck, but he tucks them away the rest of the time. Watch those huge tremolo gliss runs from the bottom of his bass strings all the way up the neck to the top of his high strings. Two fingers! What the fuck.

Second, Grapelli’s playing is just amazing. What can I say? He’s every bit the genius that Django was. His left hand lingers way up in what we violinists, speaking to each other in purely technical terms, unhindered by the need to cater to a layman audience, call the “scary part” of the neck—where the notes are so close together that the slightest misplacement results in terrible disonnance. But his tone is pure and clear the entire time, and every note he plays is unhurried, tasteful, elegant, and often just plain beautiful.

Finally, the whole atmosphere in the first section is perfect. Everyone is wearing suits and playing poker, smoking cigarettes and drinking, except Django, who’s noodling, and Stephane, who’s off to the side smoking. Finally Stephane puts down his cigarette and picks up his fiddle to join Django. As soon as they hear those first notes, everyone just kind of looks up and smiles to each other. I don’t know how staged this was, but I could watch it over and over.

The second part is a performance of J’attendrai. Chords are here. It’s a pretty tune, though I’ve never heard the original, non-swing version, which was sung.

This clip, as well as all other footage of Django known to man, can be found on the Stephane Grappelli: A Life in the Jazz Century DVD.