German jazz guitarist Coco Schumann came of age in the generation following the breakthrough jazz recordings of Django Reinhardt and much of his own guitar work is deeply influenced by the legendary Gypsy. This 37-cut, two-disc retrospective captures many of the phases of Schumann’s work to date.
He served as guitarist for violinist Helmut Zacharias, creating a classic pairing in the style of Django and Stephane Grappelli. Their recordings from the 1940s through the ’70s comprise some of the best swing cuts here. Schumann’s own quartet, featuring accordion, piano, and vibes, released a fine swing session in 1952 that is also well represented.
Schumann’s later recordings in this set are classic more as kitsch, however. Lounge-style electric guitar work and smooth jazz arrangements mark these as tracks to skip.
Still, the quality of the early swing tunes outweigh the modern pieces, making this a showcase of European swing at its peak. The CD set is available from Trikont (Kistlerstrasse 1, Postfach 901055, D-81510 Munich, Germany) or on the web from Germany’s CyberCD (www.cybercd.de).
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’99 issue.