French violinist Didier Lockwood’s new CD brings together three of Europe’s outstanding jazz musicians in a lively Tribute To Stephane Grappelli. The classically trained Lockwood is accompanied by the Danish bass master Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen and noted French guitarist Bireli LaGrene in a set that would do Grappelli proud.
Lockwood is the recipient of the Waldrop violin, first presented to Grappelli in 1937. The famed French violinist Michel Waldrop initially presented the violin to Grappelli in recognition of him as a major new jazz violin talent, a sort of passing of the torch ritual. Grappelli later handed the cherished violin off to Jean-Luc Ponty, and then, in 1979, Grappelli and Ponty decided that Lockwood was worthy to be next in line. This is fast company indeed, and on this disc Lockwood returns from the world of fusion to demonstrate the current high quality of the French jazz violin tradition.
Decades ago Pedersen recorded with Grappelli and Oscar Peterson; he again provides the backbone for an excellent trio. This recording has a spare sound with many long duet exchanges involving the bassist, in addition to a number of beautiful Pedersen solos. Guitarist LaGrene has a bright, acoustic sound that intertwines intricately with Pedersen’s deep bass sound. Didier Lockwood has found a match in Pedersen, the violinist’s mercurial shifts in tone and style are balanced by the bassist’s impeccable sense of time. Pedersen is a ground wire if there ever was one.
Lockwood can also play in the heart-tug style of Grappelli with an especially poignant performance on Erroll Garner’s “Misty.” LaGrene’s concise solos add to the mood. This track is followed by an oddly French sounding “Pent-Up House” that reminds us that we’re a long way from be-bop New York and delightfully so. This recording is an appropriately joyful tribute to Stephane Grappelli that catches the spirit and tone of one of the original great jazz violinists. Recommended.
Tracks:Les Valsueses; 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. (64:48)