This tribute to American jazz violinist Eddie South (1904–62), by West Coast musician Jeremy Cohen, is no cloning job but a successful disc in its own right. From the opening fanfare to Black Gypsy, you know that slavish imitation is out. For one thing, Cohen uses more expressive intonation than I associate with South.
Why not simply direct listeners to South’s own discs? Well, most are restricted to less than three minutes; and some have vocals that sound embarrassing now. Hearing Deep Purple without a vocal, but with Cohen’s violin producing a vivid parlando, is nice. And every track is more expansive than its original
Violinjazz includes three other excellent musicians, pianist Larry Dunlap, guitarist Dix Bruce and bassist Jim Kerwin: the latter provides some nifty arco on Tzigane in Rhythm, which has only a distant connection to Ravel. Most of the 14 tunes are not by South – one, Zigeuner, is by Noël Coward and has just piano backing.
Cohen’s wife Andrea Liguori plays piano on Kol Nidre and a few tracks have Harold Jones on drums. Fiddle Ditty is quite funky in rhythm and the bass is effectively added to the original violin and guitar on Eddie’s Blues. Exemplary sound throughout.