Hear Lost Recording of Pink Floyd Playing with Jazz Violinist Stéphane Grappelli on “Wish You Were Here”

Those of you deeply into both jazz vio­lin and pro­gres­sive rock no doubt jumped right on the play but­ton above. Quite a few more will lis­ten — so expe­ri­ence has taught me — pure­ly out of inter­est in any­thing and every­thing Pink Floyd has done. But on the lev­el of music his­to­ry, the track above, a ver­sion of the cere­bral Eng­lish rock band’s Pink Floy­d’s well-known 1975 song “With You Were Here” promi­nent­ly fea­tur­ing a solo from the French “Grand­fa­ther of Jazz Vio­lin­ists” Stéphane Grap­pel­li, should fas­ci­nate just about any­one. It speaks to the par­tic­u­lar kind of high-pro­file musi­cal exper­i­men­tal­ism that thrived in that era, at least in some quar­ters — or, rather, in some stu­dios. In this case, the Grap­pel­li and the Floyd boys found them­selves record­ing in adja­cent ones. Why would the lat­ter invite the for­mer, already an elder states­man of jazz and a col­lab­o­ra­tor with the likes of Djan­go Rein­hardt, to sit in on a ses­sion? (Watch Djan­go and Grap­pel­li play togeth­er in the 1938 film, Jazz Hot here.) Well… why not? They need­ed some­thing impres­sive to fol­low Dark Side of the Moon, after all.

Still, for all the rich­ness of the result you hear here and all the fan-hours spent lis­ten­ing to Pink Floy­d’s Wish You Were Here album in the 35 years after it came out, the pub­lic nev­er got to hear Grap­pel­li’s play­ing fore­ground­ed until Immer­sion reis­sued it three years ago. This long-lost but redis­cov­ered mix of the title track marks, to the mind of Pink Floyd found­ing mem­ber Nick Mason, a marked improve­ment over the ver­sion on the orig­i­nal album. “I think that was the jew­el in that par­tic­u­lar crown,” he said to Son­ic Real­i­ty. “It was some­thing that I assumed had been lost for­ev­er. I thought we’d record­ed over it. [ … ] I can’t imag­ine why we didn’t use it at the time.” In the one they did use at the time, what remains of Grap­pel­li’s play­ing came out so inaudi­ble that the album’s cred­its did­n’t even name the vio­lin­ist. I’d like to chalk up anoth­er point for the cul­tur­al revi­sion made pos­si­ble by our tech­no­log­i­cal age, but alas, I doubt any sort of redis­cov­ery will break true Floyd acolytes of their adher­ence to the canon.

via Some­thing Else Reviews

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Sings Shakespeare’s Son­net 18

Watch Doc­u­men­taries on the Mak­ing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here

Dark Side of the Rain­bow: Pink Floyd Meets The Wiz­ard of Oz in One of the Ear­li­est Mash-Ups

Watch Pink Floyd Play Live in the Ruins of Pom­peii (1972)

Jazz ‘Hot’: The Rare 1938 Short Film With Jazz Leg­end Djan­go Rein­hardt

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (17)
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  • Howard Siegel says:

    Thank you…most enjoy­able. My first taste of Pink Floyd in decades has re-awak­ened my joy for their art.

  • John S. Wilkins says:

    I recall see­ing an inter­view about this ses­sion, where Grap­pel­li was asked about how he found it. His reply, as I recall it, was “They are very nice boys, but always the same three chords!” in that love­ly high pitched voice of his.

  • john says:

    It’s nice to hear this ver­sion, but I think the folks who cut the album as it was released made the right call. Less is more. Maybe even Grap­pel­li would agree that this ver­sion spends a whole lot of time on just three chords. :)

  • Shaun says:

    Just per­fect… My favourite song, thank you.

  • pedrostephano says:

    I’ve nev­er heard a vio­lin being played with notes so bent, so pur­pose­ful­ly.


  • Shibani Ghosh says:

    Love your stuff

  • Jay Winston says:

    Le Hot Club de Floyd. This is incred­i­ble.

  • Hernning Rasmussen says:

    its not a song to Nick Mason the drum­mer — its a song to the late Syd Bar­rett, the founder of Pink Floyd and a kind of musi­cal men­tor for their work even he left the band after only 1 album and end­ed up in men­tal hos­pi­tal

  • Sasha says:

    Wow…this is like a win­dow into a par­al­lel uni­verse — won­der­ful.

  • Nick says:

    I’m so glad this was expunged from the final record. Grap­pel­li just does­n’t ‘get the Floyd. His hap­py, upbeat jazz is com­ing from total­ly the wrong place. It’s also way to fid­dly — against the grain of Floy­d’s moody tex­tures.

  • Gma Karrot says:

    OH, MAN.…WERE YOU ALIVE “BACK THEN”? Grap­pel­li was prob­a­bly the “Pink Floyd” of his youth! Genius is genius how­ev­er it’s deliv­ered. Broad­en your hori­zons, son.

  • Michael LaRocca says:

    I bought this from Ama­zon maybe a year ago for 99 cents and it’s the only ver­sion I’ll lis­ten to.

  • JC says:

    I was lucky enough to see Grap­pel­li live, he was in his 70s, he had a nasty virus, and he blew the audi­ence away. I was sur­prised to see him at the piano as well where he also amazed the crowd. Just the idea of tour­ing at that age, let alone sick as hell, still makes me shake my head.
    Of course I love Floyd as well, and I sure had nev­er heard of this — thanks!

  • Brete H Thomas says:

    Loved hear­ing this. I now get where Gilmour’s leads came from on this track. I did­n’t belong on the final cut, but damn it’s fun to hear. And that’s a huge com­pli­ment. This is my favorite track of all time, so to hear any tin­ker­ing is approach­ing sac­ri­le­gious­ness

  • Amanda says:

    I KNOW I’ve heard this on spo­ti­fy but I some­how lost the track and it’s nowhere to be found. Real­ly glad I found it on here. Just amaz­ing.

  • Steve F Ardire says:

    Yes for sure I vivid­ly remem­ber Pink Floyd’s well-known 1975 song “With You Were Here” promi­nent­ly fea­tur­ing a solo from French “Grand­fa­ther of Jazz Vio­lin­ists” Stéphane Grap­pel­li which was great when com­mu­ni­cat­ing with girl­friends that made fire­works after­wards 😉

  • Ken says:

    Does­n’t sound like Grap­pel­li to me.
    He was a far supe­ri­or play­er than this dude,his tone was much more refined. Also styl­is­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent.
    Some­one’s hav­ing a lend of you!

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