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Handful of Stars

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"A wonderful debut by 19-year-old violinist Aaron Weinstein. Weinstein’s choice of musicians is excellent…and the music carries you along from the first note." – CHIP DEFAA, author, VOICES OF THE JAZZ AGE

A wonderful debut album by 19-year-old violin phenom Aaron Weinstein, with a swinging support group of jazz heavyweight musicians! Weinstein is quickly earning a reputation as one of the finest violinists of his generation! He has performed and/or recorded with Jay Geils, Howard Alden, Johnny Frigo, Dick Hyman, Les Paul, Bucky Pizzarelli, Warren Vache, John Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini, Joe Ascione and more. Weinstein’s high school group was voted the nation’s Best High School Instrumental Jazz Group by Down Beat. Features vocals by jazz star John Pizzarelli.

Review

Weinstein's session heralds the advent of an unmistakenly personal improviser and renews interest in the heritage of the jazz violin. -- Nat Hentoff, The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2006
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 11, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Arbors Records
  • ASIN: B000BB18DG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,362 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Aaron Weinstein was still a teenager when he recorded this CD in 2005. He's an excellent jazz violinist, still cutting his teeth, but able to swing and improvise like a pro. His youth and inexperience are probably reflected most in the slower ballad numbers like A HANDFUL OF STARS where he sticks pretty close to the melody. He can tear apart up-tempo numbers, though, and IF DREAMS COME TRUE is a real roof-raiser. Bucky and John Pizzarelli offer solid support, and what a treat (and learning experience) it must have been to have Houston Person guest on tenor sax on a few numbers. Will Weinstein be the heir apparent to Stephane Grappelli? With continued dedication to his instrument and the art form - and a little bit of luck - Weinstein should become a well-known performer on swing-oriented CDs and concert/club appearances. All the best to him.
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Not only does Aaron Weinstein make the violin swing on this c.d. but the company he keeps is amazing: Houston Person, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Joe Ascione. Nat Hentoff says it best in his Wall Street Journal article, "This session should bring renewed interest in the often overlooked heritage of the jazz violin while heralding the advent of an unmistakably personal improviser who can be intimately tender as well as so fierily invigorating that you have to move to his music."
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"Aaron Weinstein will go a long way because he's well-grounded, and he really has a sense of jazz as it should be." ~ Houston Person ~

"The first time I heard Aaron Weinstein, I was surprised. He was just sensational--a teenager, and yet he's playing like Joe Venuti; he's on the way to being a Joe Venuti...He's a brilliant player and people love him." ~ Bucky Pizzarelli ~

Aaron Weinstein, who plays in the tradition of his influential heroes: Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Svend Asmussen and Stéphane Grappelli, is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston. He was also named by Down Beat magazine as a "Rising Star Violinist." He was only 19 when he recorded this album, "A Handful of Stars," in 2005 under Arbor Records. He personally chose the material for this album as well as the sidemen who will record with him. And what an exceptional choice of repertoire and a terrific line-up of some of the best musicians in the field of jazz--the likes of Bucky Pizzarelli, Houston Person, John Pizzarelli, Nicki Parrot and Joe Ascione.

The material dates back from 1918's "After You've Gone" through 1960's "Samba de Orpheu" from songwriters Henry Creamer, Turner Layton, George Gershwin, Frank Loesser, Duke Ellington, Ted Shapiro, Jack Lawrence, Jimmy McHugh, Luis Bonfa, among others.

His choice of title track is very impressive in the sense that this tune from Ted Shapiro and Jack Lawrence is seldom recorded. It's a great thing nowadays that someone out there--a fine, young musician at that--finds this tune beautiful and worthy to be recorded and even made it the title track. He notes: "It's a beautiful melody but for some reason has fallen through the cracks." It's sad but true. To my ears, it is one of the most beautiful melodies written in 1940.
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Aaron can be compared to Grapelli and Venuti but there really is not need to compare since he is unique in his very own style. The After You've Gone number with slow and then quick tempos reminded me of old, old memories of Al Jolson. The Swingin' in the Rockies is so delightful in its violin harmonies that I am going to use it on my website. And the Pennies from Heaven number is wonderful to hear again and again and again like so many gently spring and summer showers. I also got a giggle out of the bass and violin pickin'! This is a five star album that goes into my favorite five collection.
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A jazz fan's dream CD - excellent selections and masterfully played. A definite high recommendation!
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