Violinist Mark O'Connor joined forces with bassist Jon Burr
and guitarist Frank Vignola
for this sensational concert in tribute to Stephane Grappelli
, the grand old man of jazz violin until his death just shy of 90 in 1997. O'Connor was captivated by the Frenchman's playing at an early age and played along side him on several occasions, while Burr was Grappelli's regular bassist during the final decade of his career. O'Connor salutes his mentor without emulating his style directly; in fact, only three of the songs are associated with Grappelli: the lovely ballad "Nuages," composed by Grappelli's partner, Django Reinhardt
; a wild reworking of "Minor Swing" (a Grappelli-Reinhardt collaboration); and an easygoing stroll through Duke Ellington
's "Satin Doll," a song which Grappelli played often on stage. But it is O'Connor's swinging originals that command the most attention. "Swingin' on the 'Ville" is a lively opener that features blistering solos by all three men, while the complex swinger "Sweet Suzanne" seems to be inspired by the chord changes to a mix of different standards (including "(Back Home Again In) Indiana" and "Limehouse Blues"), and "In the Cluster Blues" is a subtle but soulful blues. Burr's emotional ballad "Lament" is another memorable highlight. The finale is "O'Connor"'s amusing "Pickles on the Elbow." The playing by all three musicians is at a consistently high level throughout the concert. This should be considered an essential CD for swing fans.