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03/01/14

Christine Ebersole
Strings Attached
Motema

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of vocalists have sung with strings, but you can count the number of voice-and-violin jazz albums on one hand and have several fingers left over. Which makes this warm pairing of actress and singer Christine Ebersole and wunderkind violinist Aaron Weinstein all the more special. The unlikely duo earned raves for their Birdland appearance alongside pianist Tedd Firth and bassist Tom Hubbard in late 2011. Ebersole, 60, often pigeonholed as a cabaret singer but truly a fine jazz interpreter, and 28-year-old Weinstein have since teamed for sporadic club dates, reassembling the original foursome for this 2012 studio session.

Though he’d surely get an argument from the myriad vocalists who invoke horns in their phrasing, Weinstein believes the violin offers the closest approximation of the human voice, a theory masterfully tested across these 13 ballads and midtempo standards. There are times, most notably on “Love Is Here to Stay” and “I’ll Be Seeing You,” when Ebersole and Weinstein are so tightly entwined that the thinnest airmail sheet couldn’t pass between them. Ebersole’s winningest moments are, however, reserved for a loose, playful “Jitterbug Waltz” that strongly recalls Jo Stafford. The pair closes with two charming nods to Disney—a swinging “Something There” from Beauty and the Beast, Weinstein’s violin dancing like a gleeful marionette, and an eider-soft version of the Peggy Lee lullaby “La La Lu” from Lady and the Tramp.

Originally published in January/February 2014
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