This two-CD set may be the most extensive compilation featuring jazz violinists ever assembled. Anthony Barnett, founder of the AB Fable label and a devotee of jazz violin, has collected many rare performances, including long unavailable recordings, transcriptions, airchecks, and previously unissued tracks. In spite of some difficulties with the condition of some of the aging source material, Barnett's restoration and remastering efforts are laudable. In spite of the title, the music is actually a mix of swing and bop recordings. The first disc is devoted to Americans, including obvious choices like Stuff Smith (in a terrific unissued meeting with guitarist Mary Osborne in a driving "I Got Rhythm"), Eddie South, Ray Nance, and John Frigo (later known as Johnny Frigo), but also delving into musicians such as Willy Girard, Leon Abbey, Harry Lookofsky (who plays a snappy take of Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait" and a brisk, exotic interpretation of John Lewis' "Django"), and Dick Wetmore. Disc two concentrates on European violinists, including the two most important players of the 1940s and 1950s (Stéphane Grappelli and Svend Asmussen), but also covering many lesser-known artists like Odd Wentzel-Larsen, Emil Irwing, and Andre Hodeir. An added bonus is the detailed 96-page booklet, though the tiny font may require magnification for most readers. With over 155 minutes of rare music, jazz violin fans will have plenty of reasons to pick up this anthology, available from the label's website at www.abar.net.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden