|Grappelli & Reinhardt|
While it was a simple chorus, it enhanced the aura of the song with sympathetic obbligatos and graceful ornamentation. Django inserted artful arpeggios into the arrangement, bridging verses as well as offering harmonic counterpoints to Sablon' vocal melody. The solo was not the audacious Django of his musette or jazz playing but rather was restrained and stylish, the perfect complement to Sablon's music. (67-68)
This is not to say that Sablon's voice is always "restrained and stylish"; on the contrary, he demonstrates an excellent sense of swing, which is evident, for example, in his jazzy version of the traditional song "Sur Le Pont d'Avignon," as well as on many of his other tracks with Reinhardt, such as "Je Suis Sex-Appeal" and "Par Correspondance," and in his French reading of "The Continental," recorded as "Rythme du Bal Continental" with Django on guitar and the excellent American pianist Garland Wilson in 1935. All of these tracks can be found on The Great French Stars: J'Attendrai (ASV/Living Era), a currently out-of-print collection of Sablon's 1930s recordings, many of which feature Reinhardt and Grappelli.
|Sablon hosted hie own NBC radio show|
duets with Sablon on television are delightful to watch), and Jacques Brel. Suave, elegant, and always projecting an irresistibly classy nonchalance on stage, Sablon is an icon of the French chanson, and his importance was once very accurately (and poetically) summed up by his friend, the writer and all-around intellectual Jean Cocteau: "The waves, the sounds of the streets, the records, the refrains whistled by cyclists out on the street turned Jean Sablon into a great, vague face beloved of one and all, but without a clear shape, like memory." And, indeed, his voice is like a memory that is always a pleasure to rediscover.
Jean Sablon and Duke Ellington
In this excellent video, Sablon leans over the piano and softy croons Duke Ellington's "Solitude" while Ellington himself tickles the ivories.
More information on Jean Sablon
If you are interested in finding out more about Jean Sablon, visit the Official Jean Sablon Website, where you will find more information both in English and in French.
|Sablon was the first French singer to employ a microphone|
Update on October 30, 2013
One of the users of the Crosby Fan World forum, Jeremyrose, posted a message after reading this article on Jean Sablon (who is, he says, one of his favorite crooners) to recommend further releases to those wishing to explore Sablon's recorded output. Here are his recommendations, transcribed directly from his post on the Crosby Fan World forum:
The French company Fremeaux et Associés has two double CD sets of Sablon tracks, the best of which is the set covering 1933-1946. Bing gets a mention in the French translation of the lyric of "These Foolish Things"—"Ces Petites Choses." There is also a release available as a download from an English company called Pristine Classical, who specialize in downloads of historic classical recordings. They have got a jazz section, however, and there is a Jean Sablon release called Songs of a Boulevardier. It's a "three-albums-on-one" release, and included are the eight tracks of a 10-inch LP (Songs of a Boulevardier) which Sablon recorded in America in the early 50s. There is a nice Crosby connection in that the musical director on that album is the Philco Radio Time stalwart, Skitch Henderson.
Thanks for the information, Jeremyrose! It is also nice to know that the French translator of "These Foolish Things" kept the allusion to Bing Crosby that the original text of the song already has. Indeed, one of the things that the beautiful original lyric by Eric Maschwitz lists is "the song that Crosby sings."