Sara Caswell: The Way To You

The NY-based violinist, in company with vibist Chris Dingman and others, plays bebop and ballads with a sometimes melancholy cast


The opening South Shore offers gauzy, oblique violin lines against a soft-focus, lightly swinging rhythm backdrop. Sara’s lines are emotional – a little sombre, perhaps, but in a good way. Chris Dingman’s swinging vibes add a touch of bop to the proceedings on this opening track. This uptempo performance sets the mood for the programme.

Bassist Sturm’s Stillness is, by contrast, a light ballad given a romantic violin reading by Ms Caswell. The leader improvises freely on most of these selections in true jazz fashion even while she retains a classical violin tone throughout.

Voyage, by Kenny Barron, is more a straight bebop-style chart with well-crafted solos from Caswell and Dingman. The ensembles are tight and well organised. 

On O Que Tinha De Ser Ms Caswell plays a hardanger d’amore, a sort of cross between violin and viola where she gets a darker, more mellow sound. Once again, her tone is rather melancholy but moving. Warren’s Way is another reflective ballad played with conviction by the violinist.

Ike Sturm and Jesse Lewis combine effectively in the rhythm section on bass and amplified acoustic guitar respectively. The support from guitar, bass, drums and vibes through all these pieces is quiet and sympathetic.

This may not be for the traditionalists or anyone expecting Stuff Smith or Stephane Grappelli type lines, but it is original, different and contemporary jazz worthy of an audition.

South Shore; Stillness; Aneis; On My Way To You; Voyage; Warren’s Way; Last Call; Spinning; O Que Tinha De Ser (50.52)
Caswell (vn, hda); Jesse Lewis (g); Chris Dingman (vib); Ike Sturm (b, abg); Jareo Schonig (d). NYC, 19 & 20 April 2019.
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