Blue Violin Quartet
Blue Violin is the culmination of a two decade plus exploration of the art of jazz. James Sanders, a Chicago based musician and bandleader, calls it his tribute to the masters of the jazz violin tradition.
Sanders has honed his chops as a leader and collaborator in various jazz contexts. His 20+ year career includes leading the Latin jazz ensemble James Sanders’ Conjunto, who have logged hundreds of gigs and released 2 CDs since their founding in 2001. Sanders has recorded and toured internationally as a member of Dee Alexander’s Evolution Ensemble, the Harrison Bankhead Sextet, and Alfonso Ponticelli’s Swing Gitan. Additionally, he has ongoing collaborations with several members of the acclaimed AACM circle of free jazz improvisers.
In the summer of 2012. Sanders entered the studio for what would become Blue Violin: A Jazz Legacy, released in January 2013. The first thing you notice about Blue Violin is that there are very few numbers on it normally associated with violin. “That’s on purpose” says Sanders. “That would have been the easy thing to do, a bunch of Stephane Grappelli and so on, but far less interesting.”
Instead, the recording features an eclectic yet seamless mix of tunes ranging from bop to post-bop written by Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Kenny Baron, Steve Swallow, Bud Powell and others. The collection is rounded off by a couple of Great American Songbook classics by Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern. There’s but one tune written explicitly for violin, Stuff Smith’s title track. “That’s important” says Sanders. “Without Stuff Smith, I never would have taken this whole jazz journey.”
So there you have it. Nine certified jazz classics, some well known, others more obscure, all sounding great played on a violin. Unexpected, perhaps, but definitely swinging.
Miles Davis' "Seven Steps to Heaven" from the Blue Violin recording sessions.