Jazz CD Reviews

Oliver Jones, featuring Josée Aidans – Just for my Lady – Justin Time
Christian Howes, with special guest Richard Galliano – Southern Exposure – Resonance

Two fun CDs for fans of hot violin.

Published on July 27, 2013

Oliver Jones, featuring Josée Aidans – Just for my Lady – [TrackList follows] Justin Time 251-2 ****:

(Oliver Jones, piano; Josée Aidans, violin; Ric Lagace, bass; Jim Doxas, drums)

Christian Howes, with special guest Richard Galliano – Southern Exposure [TrackList follows] Resonance Records RCD-1020 ****:

(Christian Howes, violin; Richard Galliano, accordion; Josh Nelson, piano; Scott Colley, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; Arrangers: Christian Howes, Tamir Handelman, Hamilton Hardin, Richard Galliano)

The first of these delightful albums pairs the Canadian jazz pianist with Montreal’s classical violinist Aidans.  The result is a collaboration that may remind listeners of the Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli duos of the mid 1970s. This is remarkably Jones’ 23rd album for Justin Time. NPR called him the greatest living jazz musician in Canada. The opening “Josée’s Blues” shows off Aidan’s swinging bowing style in a Count Basie-ish track. Several of the dozen tracks are Jones’ originals, including his three-movement “Saskatchewan Suite.” The suite was originally for big band, but Jones reworked it for the quartet.  Its second movement uses a motif from Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” and the third is a Latin-tinged number. There are also great versions of Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of my Mind,” and “Lady Be Good” of Gershwin. Violinist Aidans doesn’t spend all of her time in the classical genre—she played in the string section for albums by Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion.

TrackList:  Josées Blues, You Look Good to Me, Lights of Burgundy, The Angel and Mr. Jones, The Saskatchewan Suite, Just for my Lady, In the Key of Geoff, When Summer Comes, The Windmills of Your Mind, Lady Be Good.

This is Christian Howes’ third album for Resonance; its title celebrates the music of Spain and Latin America. Howes was DownBeat’s Critics Poll Rising Star Violinist last year. He was classically trained, but has always been open to combining that with soulful expressiveness.  His versatility is shown in this CD, which comes out of the violinist’s work with a number of musicians in Madrid, Spain over the past decade. HIs companion on the musical expedition is the versatile French master of the accordion, Richard Galliano, known for his jazz accordion styling and gypsy jazz outings. The two make an unusual and swinging frontline duo in these 11 tracks. They start out with two Brazilian numbers, by Gismonti and Lins, and there are also later tracks by both composers. The third track is probably the great Argentine New Tango composer, Astor Piazzolla’s finest tune: “Oblivion.” There are two originals by Howes and two from Galliano.

The final track, “Thank You for Teaching Us.” refers to the traditional closing of a Suzuki violin method class, and has a lush sound of a string orchestra and rhythm section highlighting Howes’ innovative production service, “Strings On the Fly.” It uses online file-sharing to allow cellists in Boston and New York, violinists and violists in Wisconsin and LA, and bassists in Madrid and Minneapolis to conjure up a virtual string section.

TrackList:  Ta Boa Santa, Aparedica, Oblivion, Cubano chant, Sanfona, Concion de Amor, Heavy Tango, Choro des Aguas, Tango Doblado, Spleen, Thank You for Teaching Us.

—John Henry

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