Stephane Grappelli Plays Jerome Kern
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Ken Dryden [allmusic.com]
Jazz violin great Stephane Grappelli made several albums accompanied by strings, though this session from the late '80s is the most satisfying of them all. Grappelli, who is joined by his regular collaborators on guitars (Martin Taylor and Marc Fossett) and bassist Jack Sewing, along with a rotating cast of three drummers, focuses exclusively on the works of Jerome Kern (with orchestrations by Laurie Holloway, Daniel Freiberg, or Jorge Calandrelli) with Ettore Stratta conducting. ''Long Ago (And Far Away)'' swings softly awash in strings, featuring Taylor and Fossett (who sings in unison with his solos). The violinist captures the melancholy air of ''Yesterdays'' in an easygoing bossa nova setting, while the relaxed tempo of ''All the Things You Are'' brings its lyricism to the forefront, featuring thoughtful solos by Taylor and Grappelli. The violinist loved to play piano whenever he had the opportunity; in ''Long Ago (And Far Away)'' he plays the piano introduction and brief tag, in addition to soloing on his main instrument. This is one of the better jazz-with-strings projects, due in part to the tasty solos and thoughtful background scores accompanying the jazz instrumentalists.