[Dixielandjazz] "Country Jazz" and OKOM AT LINCOLN CENTER
davidpalmquist at dccnet.com
Sun Mar 2 12:40:35 PST 2003
Check out the charts available from Jazz @ Lincoln Center - see
David in Delta
At 11:01 02-03-03, Stephen Barbone wrote:
>Will wonders never cease? OKOM at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center NYC.
>And an OKOM review by The New York Times. And we said it would never
>happen. That Lincoln Center would have real OKOM, performed by white
>musicians, etc., etc.., etc.
>Well, you doubters, read on.
>This trio of O'Connor, Vignola, and Burr is currently touring. If they
>appear anywhere near you, go see them. I was fortunate to have played
>with him once and can tell you that Vignola is one of the premier
>guitarists alive in the world today and this group is absolutely
>astounding. They cut everybody else who has ever performed in this trio
>fashion, including the originals. Yes, indeedy. this is a MONSTER jazz
>group. Failing seeing them, buy the album.
>Please also read this review carefully to absorb the music lessons from
>March 2, 2003 - New York Times
>A Country Fiddler Who Swings
>By TERRY TEACHOUT
> Mark O'Connor is the best-known country and bluegrass fiddler in
>the world, give or take Alison Krauss. When he appeared at Alice Tully
>Hall in February, though, he was playing jazz and not just any old
>He has started a group, Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio, in which he
>joins forces with the guitarist Frank Vignola and the bassist Jon Burr,
>two of New York City's top sidemen, to perform in a style unabashedly
>influenced by the music of Django Reinhardt, the great Gypsy jazz
>guitarist of the 30's, and Stéphane Grappelli, Reinhardt's
>violin-playing colleague. The three men have just released a CD, "In
>Full Swing" (Odyssey/Sony Classical), which also features guest
>performances by Wynton Marsalis and the popular jazz singer Jane
>Monheit, and the trio are now barnstorming around the country.
>The Hot Swing Trio, in short, is no one-night stand, but a major
>commitment of time and energy on the part of a violinist-composer whose
>time and energy are very much in demand these days. "Appalachia Waltz"
>and "Appalachian Journey" (Sony Classical), Mr. O'Connor's folk-flavored
>crossover collaborations with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the bassist Edgar
>Meyer, sold so well that he is now in a position to do pretty much
>whatever he wants, be it offbeat, self-indulgent or just plain weird. If
>he felt moved to put together a big band that played Bulgarian folk
>music with a dash of hip-hop, he could probably get it booked into most
>concert halls in North America with no questions asked.
>The surprising thing about the Hot Swing Trio is not that it exists, but
>that it isn't a self-indulgence on the part of its eclectic leader. For
>it turns out that the best-known country and bluegrass fiddler in the
>world can also play jazz as if he had a patent on it. Mr. O'Connor, 41,
>is a take-no-prisoners soloist who darts up and down the fingerboard of
>his fiddle with staggering ease, tossing off chorus after inventive
>chorus, all warmed by a lustrous tone rarely heard from more "authentic"
>jazz violinists, most of whom sound a good deal more rough-hewn. Mr.
>Marsalis sat in with the Hot Swing Trio at Alice Tully Hall, and once
>Mr. O'Connor got going in earnest on "Tiger Rag," the trumpeter stepped
>back, cocked his head and smiled in apparent bemusement, looking for all
>the world like a young gun who had made the mistake of tangling with the
>big boys at a jam session. As jazz
>musicians say, he'd been cut and by a Nashville cat, no less.
>As it happens, more than a few Nashville cats have loved jazz and played
>it after hours. (Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs recorded a smoking-hot
>cover version of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings' "Farewell Blues" in 1951,
>while Homer and Jethro, the country-music comedy duo, once released a
>whole album of deft jazz instrumentals called, appropriately enough,
>"Playing It Straight.") But their interest is almost always more in the
>nature of a hobby than anything else. The language of jazz is too
>demanding to allow for late vocations; if you don't start listening to
>it at an early age, you'll always speak it with an accent. Classical
>musicians who dabble in jazz in mid-career, like the violinist Itzhak
>Perlman and the flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, typically sound stilted and
>unsure in the company of a hard-charging rhythm section.
>For all these reasons, it should come as no surprise that Mr. O'Connor,
>far from being an adult convert to jazz, has been up to his ears in it
>since he was a teenager. He even toured with Grappelli two decades ago
>as a guitarist, to be sure, though the two men also played violin duets
>and spent a great deal of time together off the bandstand. Mr. O'Connor
>calls Grappelli "my biggest violin hero," and he regards the Hot Swing
>Trio as an opportunity to pass on the lessons he learned from the French
>"It's not competitive, not a matter of stealing someone else's energy,"
>he said in an interview shortly after the Hot Swing Trio appeared at
>Alice Tully Hall. "We're like a little club a place where we can play
>this special kind of music."
>Yet the group is not simply a purveyor of jazz neoclassicism. Mr.
>Vignola and Mr. Burr, though capable of playing in perfect 30's swing
>style when circumstances warrant it, are no less comfortable with modern
>jazz. It would never occur to either man to merely ape the distinctive
>Reinhardt-Grappelli manner, and their playing and composing give the
>group an unmistakably contemporary feel.
>As for Mr. O'Connor, his horizons are even wider. Like so many of
>today's most challenging popular musicians, he is a polystylist who
>refuses to be tied down to any one genre, and there is nothing forced or
>self-conscious about the way in which his playing and composing have
>increasingly come to reflect the full spectrum of his interests.
>"In a sense," he said, "all I've ever been doing is trying to develop an
>interesting way to play the violin, a more flexible way to communicate
>throughthis wooden box. It isn't like, well, I'm going to play jazz now,
>or do the Nashville thing now. I always just wanted to get better, and
>if a new musical experience would help, I never wanted to turn it away."
>As a result, jazz came as naturally to Mr. O'Connor as did bluegrass,
>country or Western swing though he always brings his own distinctive
>sense of musical order to everything he plays. "It's so obvious how
>completely caught up all three of them are in the moment," said Sara
>Watkins, who plays fiddle with Nickel Creek, the polystylistic bluegrass
>group that has lately taken the world of acoustic music by storm. "But
>it's not just the solos that are exciting. The arrangements the lines
>that lead in and out of the solos give the pieces they play an even
>more strongly defined form and character."
>To talk to Mr. O'Connor about the Hot Swing Trio is to understand that
>it is not a passing fancy on his part, but a major opportunity to tear
>down yet another of the walls that separate the many kinds of music he
>loves. "Frank and Jon are the most compatible musicians I've ever
>performed with," he said. "And I've played in some pretty amazing bands,
>you know. But outside of Yo-Yo Ma and I consider him the greatest
>string player of our time they're the most responsive, the most
>caring, the most dedicated. Every note they play is meaningful. I'm so
>inspired by them. I could do this for a long time."
>Terry Teachout is the music critic of Commentary and the author of "The
>Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken" (HarperCollins).
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