Skitch Henderson

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Legends Review

by Rick Anderson

Pianist Skitch Henderson and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli put together this rather strangely configured band in 2003 to celebrate their mutual love: the music of the hot jazz and swing eras. Consisting of two guitars, bass, piano, drums, vibes and four (!) violins, the group's instrumentation manages to hark back simultaneously to several different jazz traditions all at once, but draws most strongly on that of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's French gypsy jazz of the 1930s. The idea of multiple violins is an interesting but not really successful one -- Andy Stein's multi-tracked playing on "Kiddin' on the Fiddle" sounds awkward, as do the massed strings on the otherwise charmingly swinging "Out of Nowhere." But when Johnny Frigo steps up on his own on "You Stepped Out of a Dream," the effect is electric (as is John Pizzarelli's period-piece guitar solo), and the unison fiddles on the band's unusual jazz arrangement of "Blue Bells of Scotland" is quite a bit more effective. Violinist Aaron Weinstein and John Pizzarelli deliver a marvelous duo arrangement of "Three Little Words," and Bucky Pizzarelli distinguishes himself on the Gershwin standard "Bidin' My Time." Overall, this is an enjoyable, if quirky, excursion into swing revivalism. Recommended.

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