Florin Niculescu: Light
Florin Niculescu (violin)
Plays Stephane Grappelli (Blujazz BJF01)
Daryl Hall (bass), Bruno Ziarelli (drums).
Composed by Stéphane Grappelli.
Recorded: Paris, France, Feb. 4-6, 2008
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Niculescu was born in Romania into a settled gypsy family, and after extensive classical training there on violin moved to Paris in the early '90's, eventually joining the New Quintet du Hot Club de France led by Django's son Babik Reinhardt. In 2001 Niculescu became a member of Bireli Lagrene's quintet The Gipsy Project, with which he recorded and toured. Based on this specialized background, it was only natural to find Niculescu recording a tribute CD in 2008, Plays Stéphane Grappelli, the same year that Grappelli would have reached his 100th birthday. Niculescu chose not to focus on the standards Grapppelli played so frequently, but rather selected some originals that Grappelli, unfortunately, rarely revisited, such as "Light," "Opportunity," and "Hesitation."
"Light" is a waltzing, playful theme that Niculescu executes with a tone similar to Grappelli's, but with not quite as pronounced or creamy a vibrato. His solo exudes Grappelli's swinging buoyancy, and his phrasing, inflections, and grace notes adhere closely to Grappelli's style. However, Niculescu displays his own personal idiosyncrasies as well, including two country fiddle-like modulated runs that pay homage to Stuff Smith. Peter Beets' lyrical, effervescent piano solo extends the mood (as does his and bassist Daryl Hall's and drummer Bruno Ziarelli's discerning support of the violinist throughout). Niculescu provides delicate and tasty embellishments as he performs the melody a second time, and the prepared climactic figure should sound familiar to most Grappelli devotees.
Reviewer: Scott Albin