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Jim Nolet: Syzygy

C. Michael Bailey By

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Fiddlin’ Around The Coltrane Way. Jim Nolet has two John Coltrane pieces on his new disc Syzygy. This would not be unusual for a reeds-based disc, but Nolet plays strings...the violin and viola to be exact. “Central Park West” is played as a beautiful ballad and “Countdown” a halogen hop. Coltrane is demanding enough for the reeds. It shows Nolet’s musical stones that he would consider this material much less record it.

Six Degrees of Separation. I have always thought the violin was a difficult jazz instrument that even the best players can come up sounding just a little off base. Nolet plays some of the most satisfying jazz violin I have heard recently. The opening Latin shuffle of Stanley Turrentine’s “Shirley” finds Nolet whipping out centrafugally, creating in fractured integrity held together by concept and design. Bryan Carrott’s vibes are a delight, ringing against the dry tang of Nolet’s playing. That Latin thing reappears on the disc closer, Ellington’s “Angelica”. Nolet’s playing is smooth and expressive.

Endgame. Syzygy is an eclectic chestnut, and essential confection of difficult music played on a difficult instrument. Really, this is the most satisfying jazz violin disc I have heard since...well, since I’ve been listening!


Track Listing: Shirley; Central Park West; Mr. Rodrique; Tycoon; Syzygy; Love Can See; Sshhh

Personnel: Jim Nolet: Violin, Viola; Tim Hagans: Trumpet; Arturo O

Title: Syzygy | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Cathexis Records


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