Over the years, artists ranging from Stuff Smith, Joe Venuti and Stephane Grappelli, to Jean-Luc Ponty and John Blake, have demonstrated how well the violin can work as a jazz instrument. Nonetheless, violinists are very much a minority in jazz -- for every jazz violinist you can name, you could easily name 50 or 100 alto sax players or trumpeters. One of the noteworthy jazz violinists/viola players who was active in the '90s was Jim Nolet. Focusing on bop and modal post-bop, Syzygy finds Nolet playing his violin and viola in a swinging yet consistently melodic fashion. Nolet swings passionately on up-tempo material that ranges from John Coltrane's "Countdown" and Stanley Turrentine's "Shirley," to originals such as the salsa-influenced "Sshhh...Escuche" and the exuberant title song (a modal ditty along the lines of Coltrane's "Impressions"). But when Nolet slows down the tempo for Trane's "Central Park West," his playing is invitingly pretty. Not a gem but certainly worth hearing, Syzygy indicates that Nolet is well worth keeping track of.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson