Johnny Frigo

Johnny Frigo's DNA Exposed!

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Although Johnny Frigo was a violinist early on in his career, he switched to bass and didn't make his recorded debut as a leader until he was 71, following an appearance on The Tonight Show. At the age of 84, his swinging tone still sounds effortless in these very enjoyable studio sessions with Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, and Bill Charlap (the latter two back Frigo separately). The songs are predominately standards from the swing era, though they aren't without a few flourishes and twists. Frigo's flashy technique on the fast-paced take of "Cheek to Cheek" and his campy original "Hair on the G String" is a foot-tapping bop theme reminiscent of Thelonious Monk's angular compositions (with a couple of licks from Duke Ellington's "Happy Go Lucky Local" thrown in for good measure). "She Loves Me" is the newest face among the featured songs, in which the violinist explores the full range of his instrument in a brisk samba setting. The biggest surprise is the choice of Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence," which proves to be a stimulating vehicle for the violin, backed by Charlap's flawless piano; Frigo savors it at a very deliberate tempo, making the most of its lyrical possibilities. This CD should be an automatic purchase for fans of jazz violin.

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