How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
How ridiculous that with the deep pool of talented jazz violinists, many best-of lists lump them into the nonspecific "Best String Player category? With Leroy Jenkins, Billy Bang, Mark Feldman, Jenny Scheinman, Carla Kihlstedt, Regina Carter, and most recently Tanya Kalmanovitch (selected as an AAJ-NY "Best New Talent of 2004) it would be a challenge to roll off more names of soprano saxophonists (which has long had its own "category )!
The Canadian Kalmanovitch recently made the official move to New York, recorded a soon-to-be-released disc with Myra Melford and had a well-received CD release concert last month at Cornelia Street Café for her Hut Five quartet's second CD, Out Where the Trains Don't Run. Showcasing two distinct sides of her leading and playing skills, Kalmanovitch presented her unrecorded Major Over Minor string trio (featuring fellow violinist Rob Thomas and bassist Lindsey Horner), which inventively improvised off of Bartok, revealing her (unavoidable as a violinist) classical background, articulate phrasing, and keen sense for improvising. Also on the bill was Hut Five, with drummer Owen Howard (who admirably played without snare, not by choice but by necessity), guitarist Pete McCann, and bassist John Hebert (guitarist Rick Peckham and acoustic bass-guitarist Ronan Guilfoyle are on the CD).
The violin and guitar have shared an extensive and successful history in jazz: Grappelli and Reinhardt; Venuti and Lang; McLaughlin and Goodman; the many violinists of the String Trio of New York (co-led by guitarist James Emery). Kalmanovitch adds her own stamp to the tradition. The balance between the acoustic and electric instruments can prove tricky, though this element grew warmer and more natural as the live set moved on. In the studio, however, the dynamics of the three string instruments (and Howard) is spot on through sixteen collectively improvised miniature vignettes (ten hovering around the four-minute mark). Covering a mood-inducing emotional spectrum of colors, meters, melodies, and harmonies in both tonal and atonal fashion, Kalmanovitch not only crosses genres while maintaining the so-called "jazz tradition but beautifully incorporates elements of her diverse influences too.
Track Listing: Rick's Got Something; Soft T; Promosexual; You never know; Hutmobile; Death to False Metal; Hairletters and Hipswingers; Whimprov; Billet-Doux; Plucky Bits of Jelly; You could be loved in Canada; Power City; Straight into the Delete Bin; Seventeen Years of Silence; Wallop Wallop; Out where the trains don't run
Personnel: Tanya Kalmanovitch (viola, violin); Rick Peckham (guitar); Ronan Guilfoyle (acoustic bass guitar); Owen Howard (drums)