Harry Lookofsky

Stringsville [LP]

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Stringsville challenges the essential rules and definitions of bebop like few records before or since -- not only does Harry Lookofsky wield as his weapons violins and violas, but his music hinges as much on technological innovation as it does on technical prowess. Lookofsky transcends contemporaries like Stuff Smith and St├ęphane Grappelli for sheer artistry, conjuring remarkably athletic solos rooted in the traditions of classical music but with the creative phrasing and rhythmic intensity of bop -- his performances boast a dark, dramatic edge that pushes the violin into a bold new dimension. No less revelatory is Lookofsky's mastery of tape manipulation: for each track he contributes multiple layers of accompaniment that further establish Stringsville as a truly singular proposition. But it's an approach that by definition runs counter to jazz's improvisational ethos, posing myriad questions about the nature of music and the merits of a critical hierarchy that favors following the rules over breaking them.

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