Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mark O'Connor - In Full Swing

Mark O'Connor's second CD with his Hot Swing Trio is more than just a salute to the late, legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli; it firmly establishes as him as a bona fide jazz violin virtuoso, thanks to being distributed by a major label this time around. The capable guitarist Frank Vignola plays gypsy swing a` la Django Reinhardt without sounding like a clone; bassist Jon Burr, who spent a decade as a member of Grappelli's rhythm section in his last years, provides a perfect match for his two bandmates. Each member of the trio contributed originals to the session. O'Connor's "In Full Swing" is absolutely breathtaking, while it is fun imagining how Grappelli and Reinhardt might have interpreted his enticing "Stephane and Django." Burr's pulsating "Three for All" and Vignola's lyrical "A Beautiful Friendship" are also worthwhile songs. The remaining selections all come from the repertoire of either Grappelli or the Grappelli-Reinhardt partnership, with occasional guest appearances by Wynton Marsalis and singer Jane Monheit. There are plenty of fireworks in the trio's wild ride through "Limehouse Blues" (which, of course, isn't a blues at all). The high-flying duo introduction to "Tiger Rag" by O'Connor and Marsalis is a meeting of two masters. Monheit's interpretations of "Misty" and "As Time Goes By" are merely average, and she doesn't loosen up enough to appreciate the fun within Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," though Marsalis makes up for her shortcomings. In any case, Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio provide first-rate swing all by themselves, so adding guests isn't really necessary. - Ken Dryden, AMG

Mark O'Connor, Jon Burr and Frank Vignola paid great tribute to Stephane Grapelli on their first CD ("Hot Swing") with stunning musicianship and great chemistry. On "In Full Swing", they up the ante with guest appearances by the great Wynton Marsalis and rising star Jane Monheit. It's easy to tell how much fun they had while recording this, and that fun translates to a very refreshing, spontaneous ease that permeates the set. Don't think for a second, though, that there's a sloppy or misplaced note to be heard anywhere on this CD. Jon and Frank are spectacular musicians and can really light a fire under Mark - listen to Limehouse Blues, where Mark shreds a handful of hairs from his bow, and then Frank absolutely rips it up with a guitar solo that would put a smile on Django's mug. Throughout the track, Jon's bass lines are churning like a freight train - if this doesn't move you, see your doctor! Wynton's playing is as inspired and perfect as usual, and totally refreshing - the interplay between Mark and Wynton on "Tiger Rag" is like nothing I've heard before. The musicianship on this disc can certainly stand alone, but fans of Jane Monheit will definitely want this for the four standards she renders here - it's an extra treat to hear her lush voice with such wonderful backing. To ice the cake, engineer Richard King's recording really does justice to the music - spacious and honest, it lets you hear the room and the people in it with intimacy and (on a good system) great dimension and dynamics. This is acoustic old-world swing of the highest order, laid down by some of the finest musicians on the planet with a few inspired new twists. It should bring smiles to fiddle fans, swing fans, jazz fans, guitar fans, bass fans, trumpet fans, Stephane fans, Django fans, and Jane Monheit fans the world over. Oh, and if you get a chance to see the Hot Swing Trio live, don't miss the opportunity - you'll remember it fondly for the rest of your life! - by M.R. Aronson,

Artist: Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio
Album: In Full Swing
Year: 2003
Label: Odyssey
Runtime: 57:15

1.  In Full Swing (Mark O'Connor) 3:55
2.  Honeysuckle Rose (Fats Waller/Andy Razaf) 5:13
3.  Tiger Rag (D. James LaRocca/Edwin Edwards/Henry W. Ragas/Larry Shields/Anthony Sbararo/Harry Da Costa) 5:20
4.  Misty (Johnny Burke/Eroll Garner) 6:56
5.  Stephane And Django (Mark O'Connor) 5:49
6.  Fascinating Rhythm (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin) 3:46
7.  3 For All (Jon Burr) 6:08
8.  As Time Goes By (Herman Hupfeld) 5:55
9.  Limehouse Blues (Philip Braham/Douglas Furber) 7:22
10.  One Beautiful Evening (Frank Vignola) 6:47

Mark O'Connor (Violin)
Frank Vignola (Guitar)
Jon Burr (Double Bass)
Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet) - 2,3,8
Jane Monheit (Vocal) - 4,6,8



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