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Johnny Frigo Quartet: Live at the 1997 Floating Jazz Festival

Although Frigo caught a flash of the limelight as a member of the Soft Winds back in the mid ’40s, he’s pretty much remained one of jazz’s most obscure, albeit best, violinists. Today, even at 82, he still plays remarkably well, as evidenced by this collection of standards that also features pianist Joe Vito, bassist Larry Gray, and son Rick Frigo on drums.

Still fleet of finger, Frigo shows off his chops on brisk readings of “Lester Leaps In” and “There Will Never Be Another You.” Stylistically leaning more toward Venuti than Grappelli, he swings hard and articulates his ideas with a formidable technique that belies his considerable experience. Occasionally startling, he has a substantial bag of tricks that includes his ability to deftly improvise with double-stops (“My Romance,” “Lester Leaps In”) and eccentricly wavering glissandos and vibratos (“Detour Ahead”). A masterful performance from one of jazz violin’s missing links.

Originally Published