Now celebrating it's 20th year together, John Etheridge's Sweet Chorus was originally formed as a personal tribute by John to his mentor and inspiration Stephane Grappelli with whom he worked for 5 years in the 70's and early 80's. Taking it's cue from the Hot Club of France -the legendary group that featured Grappelli and Django Reinhardt the band features John's dazzling guitar work and the scintillating violin of Chris Garrick. The relationship of these two has been described as one of the most potent in european jazz and backed up by the propulsive drive of Kelbie and Crowdy the band produces breathtaking sallies through repertoire both old and contemporary. A must for all fans of melodically based inspired, swinging acoustic jazz.
"This quartet is a working band. Since recording their first CD 'Sweet Chorus' they have chalked up nearly 150 live performances in a rhythmic cohesion and creative flow that is evident from the first bar... Dave Kelbie's rhythm guitar is a joy in itself, firm but relaxed, clearly executed but never obtrusive. Chris Garrick is simply the most accomplished and expressive jazz violinist on today's jazz scene... consistently inventive. Malcolm Creese is one of the most in demand bass players around.. A virtuoso who never overplays, his handsome broad bass sound underpins the quartet... As an improviser John Etheridge will go fearlously where he has never gone before bringing a constant sense of adventure and suprise to the music. As a solo guitar performer he gives a delicate reading... After listening to this album nobody can doubt the Etheridge/Garrick partnership is one of the most fertile in jazz today." Charles Alexander (extracts from 'Chasing Shadows' sleeve notes)
Release Date: 1998
Available now on:
1 ) La Chanson De Rue
2 ) Sweet Chorus
3 ) I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight
4 ) The Nearness of You
5 ) Swing Guitars
6 ) I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good
7 ) Rhythm Future
8 ) Here, There and Everywhere
9 ) How Insensitive
10 ) Nuages
11 ) Shine
12 ) Isn't It Romantic
13 ) The Folks Who Live On The Hill
Internationally acclaimed guitarist John Etheridge formed the group 'Sweet Chorus' in 1998 as a personal tribute to the great violinist Stephane Grappelli, with whom he was associated for many years. Since then they have played over hundreds of concerts in major venues, both in the UK and abroad, to outstanding acclaim from press and public alike.
"This album is dedicated to Stephane Grappelli and gives me a chance to revisit some musical areas I associate with my time with him. There are a good proportion of tunes linked to the Hot Club in which Stephane made his early reputation. This wasn't the whole story by any means, so I have included a number of solos, duos and trios reflecting the flexibilty of his later work." JOHN ETHERIDGE
Etheridge left Grappelli's quartet in 1981 and for the last twenty years he has pursued a career involving associations with many of the great players of the jazz and classical worlds. Either in single concerts, touring or recording, he has appeared with, among others - Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, Mundell Lowe, Miroslav Vitous, Birelli Lagrene, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Williams, Yehudi Menuhin, Pat Metheny, Andy Summers and Nigel Kennedy (an association now in its ninth year) and John Williams.
In the late 80s Etheridge started to lead his own bands and is currently fronting a quartet 'Sweet Chorus' dedicated to Stephane Grappelli, and an 8-piece group 'Zappatistas' (performing the music of Frank Zappa), also leading a trio with the legendary drummer John Marshall. His collaboration - 'The Magic Box' with a group led by the great classical guitarist John Williams, was released in 2000 and the group has toured Europe, Australia and the USA. His most recent CD release is 'Chasing Shadows' by 'Sweet Chorus' and is the second of his tributes to Stephan Grappelli. The group has now been performing throughout the UK for the last six years with sell out concerts in 2003 at the 900 seater venue of Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, and the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
1 ) Chanson De Rue (Grappelli)
2 ) Swing Guitars (Reinhardt/Grappelli)
3 ) I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight (Khan/Donaldson)
4 ) I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good (Ellington)
5 ) Rhythm Futur (Reinhardt)
6 ) The Folks Who Live On The Hill (Kern)
7 ) Sweet Chorus (Reinhardt/Grappelli)
8 ) Blue Moon (Berlin)
9 ) Jaguar (J. Smith)
10 ) Porte (Etheridge)
11 ) Chasing Shadows (Reinhardt/Grappelli)
12 ) Moments's Notice (Coltrane)
13 ) Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Bloom/Koehler)
14 ) I Saw You Passing By (Etheridge)
15 ) Seven Come Eleven (Christian)
16 ) I'll Be Seeing You (Kahal/Fain)
17 ) When You're Smiling (Shay/Goldman/Fisher)
18 ) Manha De Carnival (Bonfa)
19 ) There's A Small Hotel (Rogers/Hart)
20 ) Lacuna (Etheridge)
TWENTY YEARS OF SWEET CHORUS BLURB
'This compilation is a celebration of the twenty years that ‘Sweet Chorus’ has been touring and recording.
We formed to pay tribute to the remarkable man with whom I was privileged to share the stage for many years - the great violinist Stephane Grappelli.
Grappelli had a consummate talent and an adventurous musical spirit. His own style was instantly recognisable and consistent, but he loved to place himself in novel contexts when he had the chance and his ears were always open to new sounds.
In his spirit ‘Sweet Chorus’ has never tried to be an authentic Hot Club act, and this compilation presents an eclectic and, we hope, imaginative programme.
Thanks for all these years to the remarkable Christian Garrick, the propulsive Dave Kelbie and our two great bass players, Malcolm Creese and Andy Crowdy.'
On Thursday 18th July 2019, Helen Mayhew played the track Moment's Notice from “Twenty – The Best of Sweet Chorus” on her “True Brit” show on Jazz FM. You can listen to the show here: https://www.jazzfm.com/music/?...
"Absolute sell-out, great concert" Alan Hibbs, Waterman's Arts Centre, London
"Sold Out, and wonderful music" Muriel Fairbairn, Huddersfield Jazz
"Sweet Chorus, John Etheridge's first CD since the mainly-electric 1993 'Ash', is dedicated to Stephane Grappelli and features the acoustic side of his musical persona. If John had to assume Django's chair in Stephane's group, then it is Christian Garrick who is cast in the Grappelli role on this CD. In the opening track, a Grappelli composition 'La Chanson de Rue' performed here as a guitar-violin duet, it is apparent that the casting department got it right. Garrick plays with maturity and confidence, sensitiv- ity and wit - a stimulating partner for Etheridge who lays down a beautiful harmonic framework. There are two further duets and a couple of superb solo guitar interpretations (including a spell-bind- ing The Nearness of You) but the duo expands to a quartet for the remainder of the tracks with the judicious addition of bassist Malcolm Creese and guitarist Dave Kelbie. The repertoire is drawn largely from the classic Hot Club repertoire such as 'Nuages', 'Shine' and 'I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight', but freshly interpreted with strong, improvisations from two great players."
"Etheridge was one of Stephane Grappelli's accompanists in the violinist's autumnal years, a period evoked in this lyrical collection inspired by memories of the dapper Frenchman. Just as guitarist Martin Taylor's Spirit of Django band is no carbon copy of the Hot Club quintet, so Etheridge's partners - violinist Christian Garrick, rhythm guitarist Dave Kelbie and bassist Malcolm Creese - follow their own muse. Etheridge makes inventive use of the various permutations too, reducing 'The Folks Who Live on the Hill' for instance, to a duet with Garrick and using 'The Nearness of You' and 'Isn't It Romantic' as vehicles for solo improvisation. The playing is admirably relaxed throughout. The musicians continue their voyage of discovery on their current tour."
Clive Davis - The Sunday Times
"Delightful tribute to Stephane Grappelli from his long-time guitarist. Like the late master himself it refuses to dwell on well-worn early hits, but draws material from half a century of popular song. Violinist Christian Garrick brings off the difficult task of suggesting Grappelli's style without slavishly imitating it."
"His outings with Soft Machine still draw in the fusion fans, but the guitarist's gypsy jazz quartet - inspired but his mentor, Stéphane Grappelli - exudes elegance. The violinist Christian Garrick is a suave foil; the rhythm guitarist Dave Kelbie helps keep the engine purring. Currently on a 20th anniversary tour, the group never stick to swing standards: a Coltrane track makes the cut, too."
Clive Davis - The Sunday Times
"This delightfully swinging collection of tracks is a fitting celebration of 20 years of Sweet Chorus, led as always by guitarist John Etheridge and featuring Christian Garrick’s versatile violin ... Etheridge, who almost unbelievably celebrated his 70th birthday last year, is one of our most versatile musicians and continues to perform in all kinds of settings."
Mark McKergow - London Jazz News
"Imitation and influence are perhaps nowhere more an issue than in so-called “gypsy jazz”. Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and the Quintette du Hot Club de France cast a long shadow. Lots of musicians happily bounce along beneath it with no greater aim than to emulate or outdo. It’s contentious because the all-string band style is so distinctive and departures from it rarely go far. Sweet Chorus, formed by guitarist John Etheridge as a tribute to Grappelli, with whom he once assumed Reinhardt’s mantle, nuances as much as possible the difference between mimicry and impact. This best-of album – 20 tracks for 20 years – is a delight. It’s dedicated to Grappelli and is a tribute neither over-reaching nor over-reverential."
Nigel Jarrett - Jazz Journal
"It is difficult to believe that this excellent acoustic band has been around for twenty years. Of course, we know Etheridge from his long stints with the estimable Stephan Grappelli group and this disc, while acknowledging the overarching influence of that group, shies away from merely replicating that music. Although the record is tribute to Grappelli as well as a 20th anniversary celebration of Sweet Chorus, Etheridge is his own man with his own ideas. The session, gratefully, does not become another clone of the Hot Club’s music.
To the band’s credit, only five Reinhardt / Grappelli originals appear in the twenty track set. The session has a heavy guitar presence but Christian Garrick’s violin is to the fore. It is now almost impossible, the minute one hears a violin, not to think of the Maestro Grappelli, but Christian Garrick has made his mark quietly but strongly on the jazz scene. His tone has thickened over the past few years, is more sonorous, and his attack is formidable; he bows to no other players now (excuse the pun).
Etheridge is a motivating leader and the numbers fairly fly by. He is a consummate and very skilled player and his choice of numbers is eclectic and well considered, a mixture of superior ballads, The Folks who Live on The Hill, Small Hotel, and Manha de Carnival and cheerful up-tempos, When You’re Smiling, Seven Come Eleven plus some gems from Ellington, Kern, Richard Rodgers and Berlin Songbooks and (who would have expected) Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice, nicely realised in this version.
Etheridge, also, knows his way around a ballad with sensitive readings of Porte and Lacuna, two of his own compositions. The other members, Malcolm Creese and Andy Crowdy on basses and Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar keep things solidly swinging.
Good to hear this sprightly group in such good form, inheriting the Hot Club legacy while, at the same time, sounding just that little bit different."
John Martin - The Jazz RAG
Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe
Silver-tongued and golden-fingered, John Etheridge is a veritable musical alchemist. With his deliciously casual banter and brilliantly inventive playing, a rapt audience lapped up his tribute to Stephane Grappelli (with whom he toured in the 70's) right down to the last note of the band's very generous encore.
And just as last year, we were left wondering whether it's anatomically possible for those fingers to do what they did... The short answer is "no."
But the truth is this guitarist simultaneously plays a fast-moving bass line with a melody that flies from his strings faster still. And at the end of one exhausting piece, where sizzling solos ripped along the guitar neck over the top of his own thumping chords and picked lower range, even John himself conceded "you feel like you're accompanying yourself."
Making a gentle gibe at journalists who described him as being "ably supported" by Sweet Chorus's rhythm guitarist, Dave Kelbie, we say instead John was marvellously maintained, unerringly uplifted and brilliantly boosted by the whole quartet in a gripping and colourful musical conversation.
Exchanges between the musicians spanned romantic and raunchy episodes, through to humorous and down right silly moments - well, what else can you call the Flintstones theme tune creeping in to one number? And there were virtuoso performances from all the band members - even a spell-binding and oh-too-short solo from Dave.
Christian Garrick (heralded as today's most accomplished and expressive jazz violinist,) gave us a mesmerising performance, with riveting solos teasing audience members to the edge of their seats, while double bass player Pete Kubryk-Townsend's solo-spot shook as many solar plexus as it did heads - these shook in astonishment at the complex diversity of sounds he drew from his instrument.
What breathtaking texture, what staggering variety, what pace and spontaneity - and what fun!
More singing next time, please - we loved it!
Andrea Charters. North Devon Journal.
"It is music that demands that you close your eyes and listen, for only then can the ethereal nature of what is being played stand separate from the physical reality of darting fingers and blurred plectrums."
James Griffiths, The Guardian
"Earlier that evening at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, the interplay in John Etheridge's acoustic quartet, Sweet Chorus, proved even more subtle. Gorgeous stuff."
Clive Davis, The Times
JOHN ETHERIDGE - (guitar) see Biography
CHRISTIAN GARRICK - (violin)
Despite his youth the brilliant Christian Garrick has already made a mark with his superb playing on this most demanding of instruments. In 1989 at age 16 he won first prize in the Daily Telegraph Young Jazz Competition. In 1993, while at the Royal Academy, he won the coveted Cleo Johnston Composition Prize. Although professional for only a short time he has already collaborated with John Dankworth, Julian Joseph and John Etheridge. 'The best young violinist in jazz today". Dave Gelly, The Observer
DAVE KELBIE - (rhythm guitar)
Well known as a rock-solid (or should it be jazz-solid?) rhythm guitarist, Dave Kelbie is first call to accompany such luminaries as gypsy guitarist Fapy Lapertin, Bob Wilber and Portuguese diva Anabela Da Silva. He is a leading light in the group Szapora (formerly the Budapest Café Orchestra) and founder member of 'Le Jazz".
PETE TOWNSEND - (bass)
Top bass player in world music and acoustic jazz circles. Pete spent eight years with 'Spirit Level' , and has appeared with Hassan Erraji, Otis Grand, Robin Jones's King Salsa, as well as beat poet Ken Nordine and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy.