, December 2010
Boasting a solid classical pedigree coupled with impressive jazz credentials, violinist Jeremy Cohen is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The shear eclecticism of this tribute to jazz-fiddle forebear Eddie South—ranging from the feel-good swing of “Idaho” to the cantorial “Kol Nidre” and a flamboyant four-minute “Rhapsody in Blue”—bolsters Cohen’s position among today’s heavyweights. Technical wonders greet us repeatedly, beginning with the opening bars of South’s eponymous “Black Gypsy”: Cohen’s delivery is drenched with bravura harmonics and double-stopping.
Ten of the 14 tracks can be compared with The Dark Angel of the Fiddle, a collection of radio transcriptions from 1944 on which a young Bi1ly Taylor was South’s pianist. Both of the Taylor originals from those briefer airchecks, “Mad Monk’ and “Dr Groove,” appear here, but despite the bop allusions in those titles, Cohen’s quartet reaffirms that South’s deepest jazz allegiance remained with the swing of his peers Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.
Cohen’s cronies also revel in the idiom. Guitarist Dix Bruce steers “Tzigane in Rhythm’ into a Gypsy-Django ambience after Cohen’s grandiloquent intro, and swings in after the leader’s solo with a thin mandolinlike approach. Pianist Larry Dunlap cools things down in a pithy John Lewis style before a tasty bowed solo from bassist Jim Kerwin embeds “St James Infirmary.” Cohen’s duet with Dunlap on Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” is his finest synthesis of classical and jazz, a veritable violin sonata spiced with rhapsody and melodrama.