If hard bop and Dixieland can have their neo-classicists and nostalgia lovers, there is no reason why Gypsy swing shouldn't have them as well -- and in fact, Europe is full of Gypsy swing artists who faithfully emulate Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli's classic recordings of the 1930s and 1940s. But not all Gypsy swing artists are stuck in the past, and not all Gypsy swing artists are based in Europe. Mark O'Connor, in fact, is a Seattle-born violinist whose Hot Swing Trio often combine a passion for Reinhardt and Grappelli's legacy with a big dose of Americana. Recorded at Manhattan's Merkin Hall in 2004, Live in New York is fairly unpredictable and ranges from performances that are lovingly Paris-like to performances that are much more mindful of Americana -- specifically, American country and American bluegrass. The group billed as Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio (O'Connor on violin, Frank Vignola on guitar, and Jon Burr on bass) brings a strong aesthetic of Paris in the 1930s and 1940s to inspired performances of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and George Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm"; those performances make you wish you were strolling the streets of Montmartre and Pigalle in Reinhardt's time (even if you aren't old enough to remember that era -- and most of the people who play or listen to Gypsy swing in the 21st century aren't). But Gypsy swing is successfully combined with country and bluegrass on the O'Connor originals "Funky Swing," "Fiddler Going Home" (which was written in memory of the late violinist Claude "Fiddler" Williams), and "Anniversary," as well as on a very Appalachian-sounding interpretation of Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Live in New York is not only pleasingly consistent -- it offers its share of surprises as well.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson