Quintette du Hot Club de France, short: “QdHCdF” (“The Quintet of the Hot Club of France”) was a jazz group founded in France in 1934 by guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli, and active in one form or another until 1948.
One of the earliest and most significant continental jazz groups in Europe, the Quintette was described by critic Thom Jurek as "one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz." Their most famous lineup featured Reinhardt, Grappelli, bassist Louis Vola, and rhythm guitarists Roger Chaput and Joseph Reinhardt (Django's brother) who filled out the ensemble's sound and added occasional percussive effects.
There are several versions of how the band was formed. The most generally accepted version amongst modern jazz historians is that the group evolved from a series of backstage jams led by Django Reinhardt, with Stephane Grappelli. However, bassist Louis Vola said in an interview that he found the Reinhardt brothers playing on a beach at Toulon. He invited them to jam with his own band.
After a series of informal jam sessions at the Hotel Claridge, concert promoters Pierre Nourry and Charles Delaunay (leaders of the "Hot Club de France", a society chaired by Hugues Panassié devoted to the appreciation of jazz) urged the formation of a full-time group. With the addition of Reinhardt's brother Joseph on second rhythm guitar, the quintet popularized the gypsy jazz style. A series of European tours were very successful, with the group enjoying particular popularity in the UK. Several bassists and rhythm guitarists rotated in and out of the group, with Django and Grappelli remaining the sole constants. In 1937, the American jazz singer Adelaide Hall opened a nightclub in Montmartre along with her husband Bert Hicks and called it 'La Grosse Pomme.' She entertained there nightly and hired the Quintette du Hot Club de France as one of the house bands at the club. As World War II broke out in September 1939, the Quintette was on a concert tour of England. Reinhardt, who spoke virtually no English, immediately returned to France, where he thought he would feel safer than in the UK. Grappelli, meanwhile, stayed in England.
Django continued using the Quintette name with a different group, featuring Hubert Rostaing as the first of several clarinetists backed by a more conventional rhythm section with drums, bass and a rhythm guitar played by Django's son Lousson Reinhardt, or his brother Joseph. This version of the Quintette often featured six, not five, players, and was usually billed as "Django et le Quintette du Hot Club de France", or sometimes as Django's "Nouveau Quintette". Due to wartime shortages of material, this version of the Quintette did not issue many recordings, although they did issue the first recording of the Django Reinhardt composition Nuages, later to become a jazz standard.
In 1946, after the war, Grappelli and Django re-teamed under the Quintette banner in an all-string format. As before, they cycled through a number of rhythm guitarists and bassists. This last iteration of the Quintette performed and recorded intermittently until about 1948.