Various Artists

The Best of Jazz Violin

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This unusual compilation includes individual tracks by three of the best jazz violinists active during the 1960s and 1970s. Joe Venuti is heard on five songs recorded live in Italy in 1971 in a quartet with pianist Lou Stein. Venuti swings hard on "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Undecided" (which is mislabeled "Humoresque," while the final track is listed as "Almost Like Being in Love" and is actually "Humoresque"). The Grappelli selections, which have previously appeared on LRC and Black & Blue CDs, are from a 1975 concert in France. Joined by pianist Johnny Guarnieri, bassist Slam Stewart, guitarist Jimmy Shirley, and drummer Jackie Williams, Grappelli's effortless swing is evident throughout his portion of the anthology. The Jean-Luc Ponty cut is the most unusual; it comes from a concert with Kurt Edelhagen and His Orchestra and originally appeared on a long unavailable Vantage LP. Themes from Ponty's "Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra" was later reworked into other compositions recorded during the 1970s. This intriguing and lengthy work is worth hearing, in spite of occasionally bad sound and at least one break in the tape. The 1959 date listed for this track is rather implausible as the technology of Ponty's delay system used in portions of the piece did not exist at that time, so 1969 is an estimated guess as to its approximate time of recording. Recommended for fans of jazz violin.

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