After his excursions into modal jazz, rock, fusion and bop, Didier Lockwood has come home again to revel in the music of jazz violin great Stéphane Grappelli with whom Lockwood performed early in his career.
In the process, Lockwood is exposing his astounding talent on a difficult instrument seldom heard in jazz to a broader audience. That audience can't help but sit up and take notice.
With the aid of just-as-astounding Biréli Lagrène on guitar (assuming the Django Reinhardt role, of course) and Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen on bass, this percussionless trio doesn't lack for swing or dynamism. In fact, its swing and dynamism overflow, leaving the listener awash in the thrill that Le Jazz Hot generated over 60 years ago.
Lockwood And Company are obviously beyond technique. They have sublimated the style of Grappelli and Reinhardt and effortlessly interpret the legends' approach to their infectious music, slightly gypsy or Gallic in its gushes of emotion and slightly American in its democracy.
We can expect excellence in the tributes of "Nuages" and "Les Valseuses". But the unexpected pleasures like Lockwood's overtoned and atmospheric introduction to "Someday My Price Will Come", its timbre pure and almost flute-like, or the Brazilian rhythm expressed by the strings on "The Kid" elevate the CD with more than exceptional musicianship. These pleasures communicate joy and youthful delight and extroversion of spirit.
The trio's command of their instruments truly is beyond description. Lockwood's penultimate cadenza and breath-taking final note in the highest register of the instrument on "My One And Only Love" seem to be the tune's reason for existence, the melody itself serving as its lead-in. Lagrène can back up another string musician with irresistible rhythm, but his polyphonal workout on "All The Things You Are" exhibits a free spirit reigned in by the rhythmic needs of the piece. NHØP, ever the solid foundation behind any group, provides nimble soloing, as if the bass were a guitar, before withdrawing into his role as percussive stand-in when the group congeals again as a unit.
More than a mere tribute to Stéphane Grappelli, Lockwood's CD represents an infectious demonstration of the potential of the violin as an inspiring jazz instrument.
Les Valseuses, I Got Rhythm, Nuages, Barbizon Blues, All The Things You Are, My One And Only Love, The Kid, Someday My Prince Will Come, Minor Swing, Misty, Pent-Up House, Tears, In A Sentimental Mood, Beautiful Love
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.