Mark O’Connor Brings A Little Bit Of Country To The Newport Jazz Festival (Newport 2010 Recap, Part 3 of 6)

Posted by Maria Miaoulis in Recaps & Reviews

August 17th, 2010   Comments Off on Mark O’Connor Brings A Little Bit Of Country To The Newport Jazz Festival (Newport 2010 Recap, Part 3 of 6)

Newport 2010 (124)

Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing delights audiences at the Newport Jazz Festival. Group: (left to right) Mark O'Connor, Gary Mazzaroppi, Matt Munisteri & Julian Lage

With three acts scheduled to perform at the same time, we decided to stay at Harbor Stage for Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing. I’m sure The JD Allen Trio and Maria Schneider Orchestra were spectacular in their own right, but boy was I glad we chose to watch this great American violinist, fiddler and composer play alongside some really talented musicians.

Now like me, you might be wondering how there could be room in jazz for such a serious instrument like the violin. Well O’Connor made it so. From the tender age of 13, he’s won numerous national string instrument championships, worked and recorded with a wide variety of artists like Yo-Yo Ma, Chet Atkins and James Taylor (among many others) and received countless awards. His career has been characterized by the breaking down of barriers. His music transcends the folk, classical, jazz and bluegrass genres. His dynamic style makes you feel like you’re sitting in a funky jazz club one minute and then line-dancing with your sweetheart at the county fair the next.

Joining him for this set were some incredible musicians – bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and guitarists Julian Lage and Matthew Munisteri. They alternated between high-energy country diddies and down-and-dirty blues numbers, extracting every morsel of emotion their instruments were capable of producing during each. O’Connor’s violin squealed with pleasure in response to Mazzaroppi’s picking and Lage’s and Munisteri’s awesome guitar riffs, leaving listeners astounded all the while.

Crowd favorites included “Gypsy Fantastic” and “Pickles On The Elbow.” As the show came to a close, we gave them a well-deserved standing ovation. Due to time constraints they couldn’t perform an encore, but we still clamored for one anyway.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mark O’Connor, check out his website for tour dates and other information.

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