Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio: Cherokee
Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio
Live in New York (OMAC Records)
Recorded: live at Merkin Hall, New York, 2004
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
American enthusiasts of the Hot Club Swing Revival all face the same challenge: where do you find a truly hot Gypsy jazz/hot-swing group this side of the Atlantic? If you're in New York, you have a few options, but none hotter than this sizzling trio, led by the smoldering Mark O'Connor, whose confident technique and chops evoke the spirit of Eddie South as well as that of Stéphane Grappelli. Captured live in a warm, clean and faithful recording, O'Connor delivers the goods with solid support by the remarkable Jon Burr and Frank Vignola, one of the best jazz guitarists in a town crawling with great jazz guitarists.
Mark O'Connor's accomplishments span several genres; his compositions have been performed by classical artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Sharon Isbin, and have been choreographed by contemporary dance legends Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp. But his metamorphosis into a jazz violinist began with his discovery of swing fiddle pioneer Benny Thomasson, and continued under the tutelage of Stéphane Grappelli. Listening to this rendition of "Cherokee," it's obvious that his classical training and clear understanding of the Grappelli esthetic give him the power and depth to own this music. His authoritative lines soar effortlessly, never seeming frantic or edgy, even when playing at this breakneck tempo.
Guitarist Frank Vignola demonstrates a clear understanding and command of Djangospeak, but is as modern and deadly in his attack as Biréli, Angelo or Stochelo, his Sinti contemporaries across the pond. Even though the trio lacks a rhythm guitarist to provide a pompe platform during his solo, the playing here is so strong you don't really miss it.
My one complaint is that the track ends too soon. Still, this is a high-octane "Cherokee," all the more remarkable for being served up in a flawless live performance by a powerhouse jazz Manouche trio and a fiddler who is definitely off the roof.
Reviewer: Bill Barnes