It's not often that you hear the words "jazz" and "violin" used in the same sentence. But over the past few years, violinist Christian Howes has become one of the artists to masterfully bring these words together.
His new album, Southern Exposure, is a fantastic follow-up to his 2010 release Out of the Blue, which gave a nod to some of the great jazz composers with a bluesy twist. This new album embraces different areas of Europe, along with Afro-Cuban rhythms, and South American influences. This is all done with the help of Richard Galliano, the master of another instrument not generally affiliated with jazz - the accordion.
There are quite a few new compositions on this recording, with Howes and Galliano both writing with "bridging the gap" in mind. These gentlemen wanted to create new tangos that jazz artists could easily dive into and and elevate into something that still fells like their own. There are also nods to Astor Piazzolla and Paco DeLucia, along with Ray Bryant's classic Cubano Chant.
If you are still not sold on how "jazzy" this record could possible be, then the sidemen should seal the deal. With Josh Nelson on piano, Scott Colley taking the bass, and drummer Lewis Nash holding this album down, there is no way this music could not swing. And, please, do not make the mistake of assuming that this is a "trad-jazz" record because of the violin-accordion combination. This is a rollercoaster of music that is far from a collection of standards.