All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Marc O'Connor - Jam Session

Marc O'Connor - Jam Session
2010, OMAC

If you take six world-class musicians and place them in an improv-based ensemble using jazz forms and influences as wide-ranging as bluegrass, jazz, blues and folk, one of two things will happen. Either that group will blend themselves into a complete organism; a living breathing extension of their six individual talents that somehow becomes more than the sum of the parts, or egos will intervene and what could have been magic turns quickly to dust. On Jam Session, due out April 13, 2010, Marc O'Connor (violin); Chris Thile (mandolin); Frank Vignola (guitar); Bryan Sutton (guitar); John Burr (bass) and Byron House (bass) spin straw into gold with one of the finest instrumental efforts of the new millennium.

Jam Session opens with "Granny White Special", featuring the blistering mandolin work of Chris Thile and complementary violin of Marc O'Connor. On fire is the first word that comes to mind; O'Connor et al. are so locked in its ridiculous. Even when the guitar solo that kicks in later picks up the incredible energy. O'Connor gets to show off a bit on "Gypsy Fantastic". You'd swear it was Stephane Grappelli himself sawing away on the violin. The musical conversation is lively on "Madeonia", with instrumental interplay taking on new heights in an absolute gem of a performance. "Swingin' On The 'Ville" blends the gypsy-jazz style of Grappelli with a more traditional swing form for one of the more intriguing songs on Jam Session. "Pickles On The Elbow" creates sparks that the reaction from the crowd in the live recording more than attests to. This barn burner leads into the country flavored "Don't Let The Deal Go Down". O'Connor's violin takes the lead, incessantly imploring you to listen while you dance along. The pace slows significantly for "In The Cluster Blues", as the ensemble languishes over a dreamy and introspective number. Thile steals the show on mandolin with the sort of fevered inspiration that can only be born of a dreamy summer day. Jam Session closes with "Minor Swing", a vibrant tune colored by the obvious Grappelli influence.

O'Connor, Thile, Vignola, Sutton, Burr and House create magic on stage; that's a fact that's readily apparent on Jam Session. Not a drop of talent goes wasted. The musicianship is tight and the camaraderie is nearly legendary.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Marc O'Connor at Jam Session drops April 13, 2010. You can pre-order both CD and Download versions from

No comments: