"Jimi Hendrix of the violin," my ass! It is sad that we are saddled with such tired metaphors. Christian Howes is considerable more talented than such a moniker would suggest. Lee Brown referred to Howes as a "Jazz Paganini." Now that is more like it. Classically trained since the age of five and performing Mendelssohn’s D Minor Violin Concerto at sixteen, Howes more than earned his stripes in the woodshed. As a jazz violinist today, he has no peer. Another really nice thing about his talent is that it falls damn little under the shadow of Stephane Grappelli. That makes him a breath of fresh air.
Jazz on Sale is Christian Howes’s debut recording for the Khaeon label. He chooses an acoustic trio format for this recital and an interesting choice of material for performance. Howes opens and closes his meditation with Monk’s "Blue Monk," skillfully deconstructed by himself and Argentinean pianist Federico Lechner. Both men are disposed to the Bill Evans School of harmonic thinking and together they produce densely impressionistic music. No where better can this be heard than on the Evans/Davis composition "Blue in Green." The lengthiest piece on the release, "Blue in Green" provides a large canvas for the violinist, pianist, and bassist Pablo Martin to each express their impressionistic ideas. "Blue in Green" is stunning as the disc centerpiece. The trio does likewise with Thad Jones’s "A Child is Born."
Mr. Howes contributes two compositions of his own. "When She is Like Water" is a folksy, thoughtful piece, smacking of Americana. The title cut is Monkish is rhythm and dissonance, creative and jaunty. Howes and Lechner are of a like mind on the piece. Jazz for Sale is a very entertaining offering from the violin wunderkind Howes. Highly recommended.
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Personnel: Christian Howes-Violins; Federico Lechner-Piano; Pablo Martin-Bass.