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Jonathan Ng – The Sphynx
Jonathan Ng (violin); Albert Alva (tenor sax); Luca Pino (guitar); Chris Dawson (piano); Seth Ford-Young (bass); Josh Collazo (drums).
(Review by Lance).
What a gem this is for those who fondly remember the small group jazz played in Harlem in the 1930s – the bands who played on ‘Swing Street’ before the boppers moved in. Flattened fifths are at a minimum and the drummer drops few bombs but instead keeps time with only an occasional mini-explosion that wouldn’t even register on the jazz Richter Scale.
You could dance to this, you could kiss and cuddle to this and more importantly – perhaps I’m getting old – just relax and listen.
Ng (pronounced “ing”) has delightfully incorporated Grappelli’s suaveness with the more earthy approach of Stuff Smith and Eddie South resulting in a voice of his own.
Alva blows pre-war tenor like Chu Berry or Buddy Tate, Pino, Dawson, Ford-Young and Collazo provide the rhythm which, although true to the period, avoids the clunk clunk of the guitar-heavy hot club ensembles enabling the violinist to float in the nuages.
The six tracks last about 22 minutes but they are 22 very enjoyable minutes in fact I’m already on my third repeat.
The Sphynx; Maelstrom; Rockhouse Pt. 1 & 2*; Gin Mill Special; Embryo; Stardust.
*Yes. this is the Ray Charles classic and this version is in that category too!