Most noted as the violinist for the most joyous guitar player ever born, Django Reinhardt. Find a copy of the works of these two together, and (if you call yourself a guitar player) eat your heart out, then watch it beating on the floor as you listen to a REAL guitar player. Then, to add insult to injury, think about this: Django's fingers were injured in a fire and he only had the use of the thumb and two fingers on his left hand.
Grappelli was born in Paris, France, January 26, 1908. He died in the same city on December 1, 1997. And he was an active player up until his death. That's right: He was making hot music at the ripe old age of damn near 90.
Grappelli is considered one of the trio of all-time great jazz violinists. Joe Venuti and Stuff Smith are the other two in that group. He was virtually self-taught, even though he did spend some time in the Paris Conservatoire in the mid-1920s. He played in dance bands and movie theaters (before the talkies came along and we got to hear the likes of brainiacs such as Alec Baldwin and Julia Roberts tell us what they think as well as hear how badly they act) before he met Django in 1933. They became close, even though Django was a gypsy (think hippie) and Stephane was fairly sophisticated.
The best work they did together was as the "Hot Club of France," a quintet with bass, violin and three guitars. This was during the greater part of the 1930s. The recordings are a bit scratchy, but they are so hot they could scald you. When WWII broke out, Grappelli relocated to England and Django stayed in France and that was pretty much the end of that group. During the war, Grappelli worked mostly with pianist George Shearing.
There were a few reunion get-togethers with Django after the war, but they never did anything on a regular basis again. Grappelli went on to record with several of the big names in jazz up until his death, but it's those tracks from back in the 1930s which will make you wonder just exactly why you're listening to the Dave Matthews Band.