Grap­pelli prefers to let his mu­sic do the talk­ing

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - GUINNES CORK JAZZ FESTIVAL -

“I got fed up be­ing asked about my age and what I did in my life,” protested jazz vi­o­lin­ist Step ha ne Grap­pelIi as he re­laxed in his lux­ury suite at Cork’s Im­pe­rial Ho­tel yes­ter­day.

This is Grap­pelli’s first visit to the Guin­ness Jazz Fes­ti­val and he wanted to talk about any­thing but his mu­sic.

“The Guin­ness peo­ple have asked me to play at the fes­ti­val sev­eral times be­fore, but I have never been able to do it. Now I am here and I am go­ing to en­joy it very much.”

Stephane is no stranger to Cork. He played in the city twice in the early 1980 s, first in the Savoy Theatre and then at the Opera House.

Now freshly ar­rived from the Prague Fes­ti­val of Jazz, the oc­to­ge­nar­ian is pleased to be as­so­ci­ated with the Guin­ness cel­e­bra­tions.

“This fes­ti­val is a very pres­ti­gious one. It has an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion and ev­ery­one of the artistes who play here is a good mu­si­cian, a gen­uine mu­si­cian. It is a great hon­our to be in­vited.”

Many of Grap­pelli’s friends and con­tem­po­raries are in Cork for the fes­ti­val.

“Humphrey Lyt­tle­ton, whom I would call the great­est jazz jour­nal­ist on earth, is here to re­port and to play!”

Any hopes fans might have of a mu­si­cal fu­sion with Louis Ste­wart over the week­end were dashed as Stephane ex­plained he will be fly­ing to the Isle of Man this morn­ing.

“I have al­ways ad­mired Louis as a great artist. He is what you would call a nat­u­ral mu­si­cian, a nat­u­ral man. I will never for­get my all-too-few ap­pear­ances with him.”

What he wants to talk about now, how­ever, is Ire­land or rather, his love af­fair with Ire­land.

“I can un­der­stand why de Gaulle came to visit this coun­try, it is so beau­ti­ful.

Dur­ing his last visit here in June he man­aged to get to Gal­way, where he vis­ited the house of a very dear friend, Jean Bar­clay.

“I had promised Jean that I would go to see her house.

“I had been promis­ing her for 30 years that one day I would visit Gal­way, and this year I fi­nally made it. Gal­way is such a beau­ti­ful place, so very wild and yet so fas­ci­nat­ing. I re­ally love the west coast and I think Jean would have been very glad to know I got there af­ter so long.”

But his at­tach­ment to Ire­land does not stop at the scenery .“I love Ir­ish mu­sic. It is so very lively”

His favourite in­stru­ments are the bodhrán and flute, and though he con­fesses, with a twin­kle to some dif­fi­culty in learn­ing Ir­ish tunes, he as mas­tered‘ Farewell to Erin’, which he played in Dublin dur­ing his June visit. “Of this I am very proud!” he laughs.

Stephane Grap­pelli at the Im­pe­rial Ho­tel in Cork in 1988.

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