PAUL VERNON CHESTER
Django's Rio Guitar
Karl Sckneider was a German Luthier but made the Guitars, Ukuleles and Violins in his works in Switzerland.
The Rio guitars have had two logos styles during time, the first one above is on Django'/Sarane's/Cavelli guitar and the second font style black one is visible on Sarane's copy.
The Nice Jazz Festival, held annually since 1948 in Nice, on the French Riviera was "the first jazz festival of international significance." At the inaugural festival, Louis Armstrong and his All Stars were the headliners "the biggest, flashiest, and most prestigious jazz festival in Europe." Armstrong was recorded on February 22, 1948. This is basically the same band that appeared on his unforgettable Town Hall and Symphony Hall concerts. However, you would never know it, the musicians were totally uninspired. Add the fact that the acetate masters have deteriorated badly over the years; you have, at best, a rare performance. Even the flashy drumming of big Sid Catlett and Satchmo's genius couldn't save it.
Over the years, many artists, such as Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald Helen Humes, Herbie Hancock, and Miles Davis, regularly appeared at the festival. After 1994, it saw a change of emphasis, with more world music and pop. But the festival's newest organizer, Vivian Sicnasi, has reinstated an eclectic mix of traditional and modern sounds with a international line-up; it remains "one of the Riviera's biggest annual events."
1948, Nice's Comité established a
jazz festival in the city as part of a wider project to help garner some of the
limelight that had been shone on neighbouring Cannes for its creation of the
Cannes Film Festival a couple of years earlier. Unfortunately, for the
event organisers, the event wasn't much lauded by the French media despite
attracting such greats as Louis Armstrong and other famous American jazz
musicians. As a result, there was no follow up Nice Jazz Festival the following
year and it would take a few years longer to establish this event, as it is now,
on the Nice calendar.
This is a well known photo of Django playing a De Luxe Rio Electric Guitar in 1948 but it is not generally known that is was taken at the Nice Opera House as part of the first Nice Jazz Festival: Nice has always swung to the cool sounds of jazz, first of all in the 1920s and '30s in hotels like the Negresco, then at the Opera House. The annual jazz festival started in 1948 and is now Europe's greatest -- a huge, prestigious, world-class event among the Roman ruins in Cimiez, way above the city.
The origin of Nice's opera house goes back to
1776 when a wealthy noble family,
the Alli-Maccarani's, obtained permission from the King of Sardinia, Amadeus
III, to transform their old mansion into a theatre house. This was only a few
years before the French Revolution.
4 et 6, rue St-François-de-Paule
Stephane Grappelli (violin)
Django and Stéphane
appeared by last-minute invitation. They were applauded, but their performance
was eclipsed by the triumphant reception given to Claude Luter and his band.
Boris Vian, a critic who once would have known better, delivered a brutal judgement:
~ Grappelli and Reinhardt, without conviction, churned it out for the 36th time...”
There are the poor quality recordings of the group made at this concert and you can hear what the Rio guitar sounded like when played by Django. Django's Chord work drowns out Stephane's Acoustic Violin as he did Duke Ellington's Orchestra in the USA 1946
The RIO guitars seem to have a variety of headstocks and I have yet to find
one the same as Django's at the Nice Festival. Alain Antonietto said it was
Marcel Bianchi's that Django borrowed but I do not see how he would know that
for certain. Probably a guess as he was aware Bianchi owned one. We will never
be absolutely sure. You can listen to some good audio quality samples from the
Nice concert here:-
And it is possible to purchase copies of the Armstrong set but nothing from Django which is a great shame as the sound quality of the stuff we have of him there is so dreadful. Amazing that the French have recordings of the American musicians who performed there but seemingly nothing from their own greatest jazz musician.
Attached shots from the concert.
The guitar with RIO on the headstock is from 1948 with Challain Ferret and that guitar was probably one he borrowed
from Bianchi or Sarane Ferret
Artists included - Claude Luter, Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow, Arvell Shaw, Barney Bigard, JackTeagarden, Earl Hines, Bobby Jaspar, Sammy Price, Rex Stewart,
Left Image - Sarane
Ferret, with the loaned a Rio Guitar, Rene Mailhes and the actress Magda Schneider - Romy Schneider's mother
Right Image - Sarane Ferret playing what looks like a Selmer and the rhythm guitarist with the RIO that may also have belonged to Sarane.
Bianchi was taken prisoner by the Germans during the early days of the war. Somehow he escaped and made his way back to Marseilles (his home). Later he found his way to Switzerland, where he managed to get a permit to work. He played regularly with the Jerry Thomas Swingtette and with Fred Bohler and made a few records. He also played his first electric guitar via some American soldier who had one. In 1944 he purchased the Bale guitar which was a copy of a Gibson. He took this guitar with him when he was repatriated,
There is a photo of him with this same guitar at "Le Doyen" in
and it is clearly from around the same time. There are several other
photos of Sarane with his Rio, and compared to the plain tailpiece and
lacquered peghead on Bianchi's guitar, Sarane's guitar had a much heavier and
elaborate tailpiece and headstock.
There is a photo of him with this same guitar at "Le Doyen" in 1945 and it is clearly from around the same time. There are several other photos of Sarane with his Rio, and compared to the plain tailpiece and lacquered peghead on Bianchi's guitar, Sarane's guitar had a much heavier and elaborate tailpiece and headstock.
These particular blond Gibson-style French guitars are hard to identify in old photos because so many were made by different European workshops. there are some Jacobacci advertisements from the 60s around, and they made very similar guitars under several labels. The RV Guitars and amps made in the Bramer workshops and sold at the famous Major Conn store in Pigalle back in the 50s also looked almost exactly like the Rio and Bale Guitars.
Premier Festival International de Jazz de Nice
Bernard Pieffer pianist toured with Hubert Rostaing and Jacques Helian. In February 1948 he performed in Nice at what was probably the world’s first jazz festival; it was there that Bernard’s playing so impressed Ellington alumnus Rex Stewart that he hired Bernard to tour and record with his band. After working with Stewart he recorded with Don Byas, James Moody, and Kenny Clarke, and he again reunited with Django for club dates and a tour.
Premier Festival International de Jazz organisé le 2 février 1948 par la ville de Nice. Différentes formations se succèdent pour y représenter leur pays, mais aussi les orchestres du trompettiste Rex STEWART, du clarinettiste Claude LUTER, du trompettiste Louis ARMSTRONG qui chante en duo avec le tromboniste Jack TEAGARDEN avec Earl HINES au piano et du clarinettiste Mezz MEZZROW. Les musiciens interprétent des morceaux de style New Orleans et de style moderne :- à 1'46 : présentation de l'Orchestre du trompettiste Rex STEWART avec Sandy WILLIAMS au trombone, George KENNEDY au saxophone alto, Vernon STORY au saxophone ténor, Don GAYZE au piano et Ted CURRY à la batterie - morceau de blues - morceau de swing - "The man I love" - à 10'26 : présentation de l'Orchestre du pianiste Jean LECLERC avec le trompettiste Hermann SANDERS, le saxophoniste ténor Bobby JASPAR, le saxophoniste alto Jacques PELZER, le guitariste Pierre ROBERT, le contrebassiste Phil GATES, le batteur Géo STEN et le vibraphoniste chanteur SADI - morceau joué par l'Orchestre de Jean LECLERC - à 16'20 : morceau joué par Lucky THOMPSON, accompagné par un pianiste, un contrebassiste et un vibraphoniste - à 21'06 : présentation de l'Orchestre du clarinettiste Claude LUTER avec Pierre MERLIN et Claude RAVANI à la trompette cornet, Mowgli JOSPIN au trombone, Christian AZI au piano, Claude PHILIPPE au banjo et Michel PACOUD à la batterie - morceau de style New Orleans - autre morceau - à 28'38 : présentation de l'Orchestre du pianiste Francis BURGER avec le trompettiste Luca BURKHARDT, le saxophoniste ténor Walt BURGER, le saxophoniste alto, clarinettiste et vibraphoniste Buddy BUZER, le guitariste Pierre CAVALLI, le contrebassiste René STEINBACK et le batteur Willie BOSSART - "How high the moon" - à 35'48 : présentation de l'Orchestre du clarinettiste de Mezz MEZZROW avec le pianiste Sammy PRICE, le batteur Baby DODDS, le contrebassiste Pops FOSTER, le trompettiste Erwin GOODWIN, le tromboniste James HATCHIN et le clarinettiste Bob WILBERT - "Royal garden blues" enchaîné par un blues et par un morceau de style New Orleans (coupure du son à 48'36) - à 49'38 : présentation du saxophoniste clarinettiste Derek NEVILLE avec Humphrey Lyttleton à la trompette, Bobby Mickleburgh au trombone, Jimmy GILMORE au saxophone ténor, Dick JONES au piano, Bert HOWELL à la contrebasse et Carlo KRAMER à la batterie - morceau de style New Orleans - autre morceau de style be bop - à 58'29 : présentation de l'Orchestre "Hot five" du trompettiste Louis ARMSTRONG avec le pianiste Earl HINES, le clarinettiste Barney BIGARD, le tromboniste Jack TEAGARDEN, le contrebassiste Arvell SHAW et le batteur Big Sid CATLETT - "Muskrat ramble" - "Old rockin chair" chanté par Jack TEAGARDEN en duo avec Louis ARMSTRONG - boogie woogie sur "Saint Louis blues" enchaîné - morceau de style New Orleans
No mention of QHCF so perhaps a last minute addition is correct and therefore not listed in this account.
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