Aaron Weinstein and David Newton
Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel, 10th April 2013)
Woody Allen would have been proud to have invented the character of American jazz violinist and diffident comedian Aaron Weinstein. In fact it would be hard to prove with any certainty that he didn’t (see above). Wisecracking violinists are a trope in American culture, on which Aaron Weinstein provides his own, pleasing, original take.
Last night at Crazy Coqs, without forcing and without imposing, he kept a nearly full house in rapt attentive silence throughout his set. The quietest moment was a three-tune Harold Arlen medley played on solo mandolin for which he seemed to retreat into the shadows behind the back of the piano, and yet it was a moment of complete connection with the audience. His is mostly a gentle craft. He played a whole solo on Polka Dots and Moonbeams entirely pizzicato; the start of I Want to Be Happy (“the lyrics have always bothered me”) was delightfully gentle, as if on tiptoe. In a jazz violin Olympics, either Didier Lockwood or Chistian Garrick might inch it on pure technique. Nevertheless, Weinstein with his oozy portamento is a pleasure to hear, and this was a consistently enjoyable show.
Dave Newton, that “urbane and resourceful” pianist (Dave Gelly) kept things moving and lively, particularly with his beautifully shaped, scampering chromatic bass lines. Newton didn’t speak last night; if Newton and Weinstein collaborate further, it will be interesting to see whether the Scotsman’s very different humour might also come to the fore. I hope it does.
Two other things worth mentioning. The London Jazz Meetup Group, founded by Rob Mallows, were out in force last night, and were responsible for a goodly chunk of audience. They are such a valuable addition to the scene. Second, the Crazy Coqs management are really gettng used to how to make this room with its unique and astonishing ambiance work now, to use the lighting, to keep discreetly serving throughout while keeping attention firmly fixed on the stage. The fact that virtually the entire audience was happy to stay and chat rather than rush for its coat at the end speaks for how much people are getting to like this very special little music room.
A thoroughly enjoyable night. Aaron Weinstein is there till Saturday.