Peter Compo

In Europe

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With a professional career starting in 1950 as bass player and working with such luminaries as Roy Eldridge, Gene Krupa, and the Claude Thornhill Orchestra over the years, Compo has turned his attention and talent to the violin. In Europe compiles live performances and studio recordings made while Compo was on the continent. Once you get by the first cut, "Calliope," which is a nod to smooth jazz replete with the Wolfgang Dahlheimer synthesizer, this is a very satisfying session. The album playlist is made up mostly of standards along with three originals by Compo. All tunes provide a stage for Compo to display his virtuosity on the jazz violin. On "I Got Rhythm," which seems to be a favorite for jazz fiddlers, his work with guitarist Mike Diez recalls the classic version by St├ęphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. Compo's playing reveals that he listened closely to the great jazz bow masters and borrowed from their styles as he developed his own. As a result, he is firmly rooted in traditional, mainstream jazz rather than progressive. In his playing, one hears the dark tones of Eddie South, the sense of swing that characterizes Stuff Smith, the sweet tone and lyricism of Grappelli, and the jocular style of Joe Venuti. For jocularity and swing, listen to the rousing version of Compo's own composition "Stuffin," where he honors Smith. "Angel Eyes" and "A Weaver of Dreams" are highlights of the album, revealing Compo's artistic balladry and his synergism with the Diez guitar. Matters get livelier with a swinging version of "C Jam Blues" with some nifty improvising by Compo, including quotations from other Duke Ellington tunes. There's a melancholy rendition of Thad Jones' "A Child Is Born." Big-band days are revisited with Larry Clinton's "Satan Takes a Holiday" and the Casa Loma Orchestra theme "Smoke Rings." The only complaint about this disc is Michel Dennis' gratuitous drum rolling on "Just Friends" which sounds like he is introducing a circus act. Judging from this album, Compo has all the tools to be recognized as a major jazz violinist

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