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A Handful of Stars

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Album Review

A Handful of Stars is a startlingly mature and impressively confident debut album from 19-year-old jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein, a young man who plays with a felicitous combination of Stuff Smith's earthy, powerful attack and Stéphane Grappelli's elegant sophistication. Accompanied by a shifting complement of sidemen that includes, at various times, guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and John Pizzarelli, saxophonist Houston Person, bassist Nicki Parrott, and drummer Joe Ascione, he's at his best and most confident on such traditional swing fare as "If Dreams Come True," "Swingtime in the Rockies" (in a very fun arrangement featuring multi-tracked violins), and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes." He's just as good on the ballads as on the up-tempo numbers — his sweet and tender rendition, with just a quiet guitar accompaniment, of "Pennies from Heaven" is one of the album's highlights — but his feel for Brazilian rhythms is a bit less sure. On "Samba de Orfeu" he sounds just a bit tentative — skillful and melodically insightful, but less confident and breezy than on the more ebullient swing selections. Still, if the worst that can be said of him is that he's a bit less fun on the sambas than he is on the other material, then that's high praise indeed. Strongly recommended.

Customer Reviews

Wall Street Journal Review

"Weinstein's session heralds the advent of an unmistakenly personal improviser and renews interest in the heritage of the jazz violin." -Nat Hentoff, The Wall Street Journal, Feb 21, '06

Aaron Weinstein

I saw this young man on Youtube. The few videos there showcased his playing in a better light. When he plays fast, he's incredible. Beautiful, swing/bebop type lines and fluid bowing, propelling seamless ideas, one after the other. He's got some chops going. On the slower, more languid numbers, I wasn't moved so much. He has an incredible future. This (I think) debut cd is not sophisticated as far as the arrangements. Pick up the tempo, and please, not so many of the slower "foxtrot" tempos on future releases.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active:

Although jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein was only 19 years old when he recorded his first album, A Handful of Stars, he had already won a number of competitions and played with jazz greats like guitarist Howard Alden and cornetist Warren Vache. Weinstein started music lessons at a young age, but his real breakthrough came when he heard violinist Joe Venuti. Later, Weinstein started listening to Stephane Grappelli and transcribing his solos. He graduated from New Trier High School in Winnekta, Illinois,...
Full Bio
A Handful of Stars, Aaron Weinstein
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Sep 06, 2006

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