199

Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio: Live in New York

Matt Cibula By

Sign in to view read count
Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio: Live in New York
Damn, these bastards can play. Mark O'Connor, who was playing duets onstage with Stephane Grappelli every night when he was seventeen years old, has a truly formidable range of skills on jazz violin. He has assembled a crack band—Frank Vignola is mercurial and scary-fast on guitar, Jon Burr is everywhere he needs to be on bass. This live set from Merkin Hall, recorded in September 2004, is a very pretty document of what three people who are on the same wavelength can do together.

The up-tempo numbers pile changes and riffs on top of each other so quickly that it is dizzying. Their version of "Cherokee" is taken impossibly fast, and both O'Connor and Vignola get the chance to show off plenty. They do something similar with "Gypsy Fantastic," wailing away in a vaguely klezmeric setting; O'Connor constructs his solos the way Matisse constructed his portraits, and Vignola works his Django-magic in both support and lead.

But they're not speed kings either. "Funky Swing," an O'Connor original, actually lives up to its title, giving the whole band the chance to work in mid-tempo pointillist style. And long slow ballads like "Fiddler Going Home" are nicely played, if a bit stiff and boring.

Sadly, it's all rather bloodless. There's no audience noise at all during many of the songs, which is sad on a live album—if your crowd can control itself, you ain't doing your job, mister. And all this precision can get a little too technique-y, like on the "M & W Rag," which is so genteel that it should be wearing a white suit on Memorial Day and sip a mint julep. Not to say the songs aren't perfectly done... just that maybe perfection is a rather soggy ideal to shoot for.

Maybe I'm just annoyed at the pretentious liner notes by Robert L. Doerschuk, or at how O'Connor comes across when he brags in the liner notes about how he is a classical composer and how this is probably the band's last album together because O'Connor's in a different headspace now, and how he intentionally made "Anniversary" a technically difficult piece. Sure, it's pretty awesome; it takes us through about 54 moods and time signatures and voicings in eleven minutes, which is nice...but do we really need to be beaten over the head with this? Does he not trust us to get it?

However, as long as the solos keep coming as fast and furious as they do here, it doesn't really matter. It's hard, it's fast, it's country Romany jazz, it's fairly lovable if a little staid in places. Dig in... just don't read the liner notes.

Visit Mark O'Connor on the web.

Track Listing

Fascinating Rhythm; Cherokee; Anniversary; Ain't Misbehavin'; M & W Rag; Funky Swing; Fiddler Going Home; Gypsy Fantastic; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Tiger Rag.

Personnel

Mark O'Connor: violin; Frank Vignola: guitar; Jon Burr: bass.

Album information

Title: Live in New York | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: OMAC Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read Jammin' With KC
Jammin' With KC
Sylwester Ostrowski
Read What Comes Next
What Comes Next
Peter Bernstein
Read A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
Bruno Parrinha/Abdul Moimême/Carlos Santos
Read Suite!
Suite!
Roberto Magris

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.