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Album Review

Although Johnny Frigo was a violinist early on in his career, he switched to bass and didn't make his recorded debut as a leader until he was 71, following an appearance on The Tonight Show. At the age of 84, his swinging tone still sounds effortless in these very enjoyable studio sessions with Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, and Bill Charlap (the latter two back Frigo separately). The songs are predominately standards from the swing era, though they aren't without a few flourishes and twists. Frigo's flashy technique on the fast-paced take of "Cheek to Cheek" and his campy original "Hair on the G String" is a foot-tapping bop theme reminiscent of Thelonious Monk's angular compositions (with a couple of licks from Duke Ellington's "Happy Go Lucky Local" thrown in for good measure). "She Loves Me" is the newest face among the featured songs, in which the violinist explores the full range of his instrument in a brisk samba setting. The biggest surprise is the choice of Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence," which proves to be a stimulating vehicle for the violin, backed by Charlap's flawless piano; Frigo savors it at a very deliberate tempo, making the most of its lyrical possibilities. This CD should be an automatic purchase for fans of jazz violin.


Born: 15 October 1966 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Bill Charlap is one of the strongest mainstream jazz pianists on the scene and one of the most gifted interpreters of standards. He grew up in a musical household, as the son of Broadway songwriter Moose Charlap and singer Sandy Stewart. Taking to the piano at a young age, he went on to study at New York's High School of Performing Arts. He then entered college, but rather than finishing, opted to practice and gig on his own. Pianist Bill Mays soon took up Charlap's cause, recommending the young...
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