Billy Bang

Commandment (For the Sculpture of Alain Kirili)

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Bang is an intense, creative improviser; the fact that he plays an instrument that's little-used in jazz is almost irrelevant, except for the fact that the violin is one of the most wonderfully expressive instruments ever conceived (just ask Beethoven or Mendelssohn). In the hands of a talented musician like Bang, the violin becomes a consummate jazz instrument. Bang has a strong and agile technique, which he displays to profound end on this solo recital inspired by the art of sculptor Alain Kirilli. Performing a solo set is a difficult task for the improviser. The musician must rely upon his own inspiration; there are no collaborators to feed from or suggest musical ideas. Bang does a remarkable job building his performance. Ideas flow and are elaborated upon and transformed. Every track has an individual character; each can stand on its own, yet works as part of the whole. His dexterity is extraordinary, yet as fluent as Bang is, it's his passion that carries the day. His ability to exploit the instrument's tonal characteristics in service of emotional expression is practically unparalleled among the very few jazz violinists of note. An added highlight of this very fine album is its informal nature; the live atmosphere is nicely conjured, enhancing the listening experience.

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