Jazz CD Reviews

Mark Feldman, violin – What Exit – ECM

This violin-centered quartet deserves our cultivation

Published on October 19, 2006

Mark Feldman, violin – What Exit – ECM
Mark Feldman, violin – What Exit – ECM 1928, 76 Min. ****:

(Feldman violin; John Taylor, piano; Anders Jormin, doublebass; Tom Rainey, drums)

Feldman is the husband of pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, whose ECM albums of chamber jazz in the rather atonal European modernist tradition have made quite a splash in that region. This time Feldman is working with pianist John Taylor of Azimuth; in fact this CD cover greatly resembles the cover of Azimuth’s last CD – “How It Was Then…” of 1995.

There’s more tonality here if not whistable tunes.  Feldman is a terrific fiddler, if not at all in the usual hot violin bag popularized by Stuff Smith, Grappelli and others. There’s more of a classical concert feeling here, both in the style of Feldman’s playing and in the music.  For example, dig the quote from Scheherazade in the middle of Maria Nunes. But that doesn’t mean he can’t swing; there’s a nice loping swing to many of the tracks. Taylor is a most creative pianist and in his classically-slanted playing a perfect foil for Feldman’s fiddle. Somehow the violin-centered quartet keeps my interest more than the too-cool sound of many ECM discs. And how many violin quartets have we in jazz, anyway?  This one deserves our cultivation!

Tracks: Arcade, Father Demo Square, Everafter, Ink Pin, Elegy, Maria Nunes, Cadence, What Exit

 – John Henry

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