16 Sara CaswellThe Way to You (violin jazz)
Sara Caswell
Anzic Records ANZ-0085-02 (saracaswell.com) 

Grammy-nominated violinist/composer Sara Caswell has had a fruitful performing career, but it took close to 17 years for her third solo album to emerge. The Way to You is a collection of original compositions, thoughtful arrangements and magnificent collaborations. Caswell has joined forces with her longtime musical collaborators – Jesse Lewis (guitar), Ike Sturm (bass), Jared Schonig (drums) and Chris Dingman (vibraphone) – creating a musical synergy that can only come from familiarity and deep connection. The album has a tranquil atmosphere and compositions are mostly within the realm of ballads, which puts light on the polished ensemble performance. Caswell is undoubtedly a queen of ballads. Her improvisations are poised, stylish and unhurried, her tone light, fluid, resonant. On this album she plays both violin and hardanger d’amore (5-string Norwegian fiddle), creating an array of beautiful colours.

Caswell is at her most powerful when improvising on the vocal lines – her ability to convey the emotions behind the lyrics is remarkable. This is most obvious in On My Way to You, an arrangement of Michel Legrand’s 1988 ballad. O Que Tinha De Ser, the quartet’s version of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes’ composition, is dark and sultry and the longing hardanger’s melodies go straight to the heart. Caswell’s original collaborative compositions Warren’s Way, Last Call and Spinning, inspired by the things of life – nature, love and bicycles – are great additions to the classics.

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